IMG_0089croppedBy Dr. Lonny Wright, Dean of Education and Training for PRIDE Ascend The U.S. manufacturing industry reports that 600,000 positions opened in 2014, of which many were unfilled because of a growing shortage of skilled workers. According to the Center on Education and Workforce, by 2020, an additional 3.5 million U.S. jobs are expected to open in related industries, with nearly 70 percent requiring at least some form of postsecondary education and training, such as a one-year certificate, associate degree or bachelor’s degree. In order to meet this growing demand for skilled labor, we need to create more adaptive training and continuing education opportunities. This is especially true for people with disabilities who are largely underrepresented in these types of industry-based jobs. In support of creating jobs for people with disabilities, PRIDE Industries is leading the way with its newest initiative, PRIDE Ascend.  This initiative was established to assist people with disabilities or those who are disadvantaged to obtain the needed competencies and mastery of skills represented by industry-based certifications. To accomplish this, PRIDE leverages both its accreditation with NCCER and the International Association for Continuing Education and Training. Currently, PRIDE Ascend offers construction and facility maintenance training programs that offer certificates of completion, continuing education unit credits and continued training opportunities through career-orientated apprenticeship programs. IMG_0095croppedBy leveraging community involvement, PRIDE Ascend builds relationships by working with the Texas Workforce Commission and the Department of Assistive Rehabilitative Services. This allows us to engage a large community of career development support from parents, businesses and retired skilled professionals. It is our ultimate goal to either support or drive state policy toward change to create more work-based opportunities that support externships, expand work-based and/or virtual learning, support industry-recognized credentials and encourage industry-led organization sponsorships. These efforts are geared toward career development for those who do not have the same opportunities to succeed or experience challenges because of their disability or being disadvantaged. Ultimately, it’s time for a collaborative, national effort that drives the creation for innovative strategies based on best practices to build new programs and services that meet today’s industry demands. Imagine the endless possibilities of what we can accomplish when we work together!

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NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.