Bucks Culinary Students to Give Lawmakers a Taste for Investing in Career Training

If the high school students were a little nervous as they prepared lunch Jan. 10 for several Bucks County elected officials, they didn’t show it.

They served up a tasty meal at Aspirations Restaurant, the five-star restaurant run by students at the Middle Bucks Institute of Technology. The room was packed with A-list Bucks County notaries, including Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick and state Representatives Paul Clymer, Tina Davis, Stephen McCarter, Thomas Murt, Scott Petri, and Marguerite Quinn.

The event underscored a key point that we make at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and the Better Choices for Pennsylvania Coalition: successful economic development requires a multi-pronged approach. A strong business climate is important, but so are investments in workforce development, education and infrastructure.

Following lunch, several guests joined students for a press conference. Among them was Mark Miller, Vice President of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, who underlined how effectively career and technical schools prepare students for the needs of the regional economy.  

Bucks County Commissioner Chairman Rob Loughery echoed this point, emphasizing the importance of workforce development to the county’s overall job creation strategy. He called MBIT the “unsung hero in workforce development. Having skilled labor for what the market demands today is critical.”  

Congressman Fitzpatrick stressed the need to retrain veterans returning from combat. With the Congressman’s advocacy, MBIT was recently designated a site for veteran retraining under an extension of federal Veterans Benefits.

Representative Clymer, who chairs the House Education Committee, said that funding for K-12 education is also critical to economic success.

Other participants at the lunch and press conference included: Roger Collins, director of the Bucks County Opportunity Council, an area nonprofit that helps low-income people in Bucks County achieve economic self-sufficiency; Liz Walsh, director of the Bucks County Workforce Investment Board (WIB); and Katie Moberg, director of CareerLink. The WIB offers workforce training subsidies that have been very effective in helping unemployed people transition to work.

Sharon Ward, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, drew the event together with a policy lesson: investments in workforce development, education, and infrastructure are a key component of a strong economy, as is a competitive tax structure.

You can help us continue to advocates for these priorities by joining the Better Choices coalition to promote a competitiveness agenda for Pennsylvania.