Laura Fisher

An op-ed in the Feb. 4 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette draws attention to an important issue already challenging our region’s economy and quality of life: the widening gap between available, well-compensated jobs and individuals available to fill them. As the presidents of the community colleges of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Westmoreland county noted in the op-ed, this “skills gap” is seen in today’s estimated 1.5 million job vacancies in the United States for jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree.

We also see this locally. Last fall the Allegheny Conference’s workplace committee – which works in partnership with the region’s community colleges, technical schools and our public workforce system – released an occupational analysis that found there will be thousands of jobs available in 14 critical jobs in all seven sectors making up our energy economy. All but one of these requires at least some post-high school training. With Baby Boomer retirements accelerating, that labor supply shortage is likely to radiate across non-energy fields as well.

After the economic upheavals of  the 1980s, many young people were advised to pursue careers elsewhere. Since then, though, our region has diversified its economy dramatically, and we now have more people employed than during steel’s mid-century heyday. The old “there are no jobs in Pittsburgh” refrain is no longer true.

It is true, however, that just a high school diploma won’t get you a good job any more. Some post-high school training is essential, and certificate and associates programs offered at community and technical colleges can lead young adults — and mid-career professionals who upgrade their skills — to well-compensated jobs in energy, advanced manufacturing, life sciences and more.

The Conference applauds the work of the community colleges and technical schools in providing and expanding this training. Job seekers are urged to check out programs and projects – such as ShaleNET and JobTrakPA – that are available in the region, as well, the Conference’s career awareness and job search portal. Pittsburgh does have jobs – and the training needed to get them.

Spied recently at the Learning Express in Cranberry: Good Night, Pittsburgh.

Riffing on – but apparently not affiliated with – the wildly popular Goodnight, Moon, it is one in a series of children’s board books heralding places across North America in hopes of “instilling an early appreciation for the continent’s natural and cultural wonders… starring a multicultural group of people visiting the featured area’s attractions and rhythmic language guides children through the passage of both a single day and the four seasons while saluting the iconic aspects of each place.”

Others include Good Night, New York; Good Night, New Orleans and – in Spanish – Buenas Noches, Estados Unidos.

Featured in Good Night, Pittsburgh are dreamy depictions of our region’s three rivers, parks, museums, zoo, aviary, sports teams, Cathedral of Learning and the Pitt Panther.

Check it out, young Pittsburghers!

Phil Cynar

“These folks [Pittsburghers] are inspiring. Check it out, ya’ll,” wrote Charleston, S.C.-based travel journalist Sharon Spence Lieb to end her article, “Pittsburgh Power,” published in the July 4 edition of the weekly Moultrie News. This full-page article – complete with five color photos of Pittsburgh – is yet another piece about Pittsburgh that resulted from the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance/VisitPittsburgh “Green Pittsburgh” media study tour in May. Spence Lieb was one of the journalists recruited by VisitPittsburgh to participate in the tour.

She recounts highlights of Pittsburgh’s rich history, its story of transformation and the region’s commitment to green business and sustainability – as captured in her paragraphs about the new Center for Sustainable Landscapes “Living Building” at Phipps Conservatory – a highlight of the May media tour and a structure that’s been called an example of “green Pittsburgh under one roof.”

Charleston, S.C.-based travel writer Sharon Spence Lieb at May 2012 green media tour reception, Reed Smith terrace, 3 PNC Plaza

It’s often said that a relocation of an individual or a family, college or university choice or a business investment decision begin with a visit. For individuals from the not-so-far-away East Coast lowcountry considering any of the above – or simply a summertime getaway – Spence Lieb makes a compelling case for Pittsburgh. She summarizes the region well in these lines, “the city’s recipe for success: mix determination, resilience and down to earth friendliness. That’s Pittsburgh Power.”

Yes, indeed, “check it out, ya’ll” – for a summer sojourn or maybe something longer.

Read the complete “Pittsburgh Power” article here. And click here to see more coverage from the green media tour, and here or below to see more photos of the opening reception for the tour at the Reed Smith terrace, Three PNC Plaza, downtown.