JOHNSTOWN, Pa (WTAJ)– The Challenge Program in Johnstown is helping more students enter the manufacturing workforce with a $200,000 grant from Governor Wolf.

This grant is through the governor’s Manufacturing PA Initiative launched in October 2017, specifically the Manufacturing PA Training to Career Program. That program helps students understand career opportunities in the manufacturing industry.

President of The Challenge Program Barbara Grandinetti said these funds would help their students excel in the “Student in the Workplace” program. It will allow them to expand to other counties and recruit more students to local manufacturing companies.

The Challenge Program helps high schoolers in grades 10-12 learn more about the workforce through an interactive experience. Students can do interviews, projects, and other opportunities, which could get them hired by their senior year.

Director of Program Development Mary Dreliszak said their goal is to help with the manufacturing worker crisis. She noted that having students trained and familiar with the industry supports the employer.

“There is a workforce shortage, and this is absolutely able to remedy that and give another tool to the manufacturer and building their workforce pipeline,” Dreliszak said.

The program was in a pilot within the past year and has helped dozens of students get into the workforce. Grandinetti said they’re grateful for the grant, knowing it’ll increase their program coverage and put them on the map.

“We’re thrilled to be able to keep kids in their communities and strengthen those communities and have kids have jobs,” Grandinetti said.

Get daily updates on local news, weather and sports by signing up for the WTAJ Newsletter

The goal for this year’s program is to reach and establish connections with 140 schools. The program will be in full force this upcoming school year, and all students in grades 10-12 are eligible.