There is always a need to build a future workforce across the Pocono-Northeast.

Much had to do with what happens at the school district level as well as the collegiate and other post-high school resources. States are critical to this opportunity to build technology as a technique to enhance economic growth and development and Pennsylvania has had the Ben Franklin Partners and other governmental programs to advance the utilization and training for technology.

One of the primary sources for continuing this trend is STEAM which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. This process is often used by school districts as well as public and private libraries in this state for the advancement of many types of technology, so that the commonwealth and this region can compete domestically and internationally. More attention to computer science at the earliest level possible helps provide many opportunities to train youngsters and to encourage further training beyond high school.

This requires bipartisan support for funding and new ideas that can shape how the future bends toward the use of technology across this region. As much as possible, no matter the political party, a great movement toward common goals and objectives should become a standard policy, again encouraging bipartisan efforts. There is a need to effectively commit information technology functions that will enable workers to be trained or retrained in coming years, especially as the region goes beyond the current pandemic.

Although the region currently has a job shortage, the steps that should be taken beyond current levels means a need to find training opportunities that will gear workers to the types of jobs preferred by businesses and industries, manufacturing or otherwise, inside the Pocono-Northeast. At early elementary school, computer science should become an important responsibility to enhance and encourage youngsters to undertake such skills and the 501 school districts in Pennsylvania should expand their curriculum and equipment and teaching methods to accomplish this. Also, libraries should all have the resources to extend schooling in summer and other seasons to work in concert with schools. Such a venture, for example, occurred in the Pittston Memorial Library several years ago with the Start Here, Start Early program that was funded by the All One Foundation. Other public libraries should replicate this.

Other skills and work elements have been implemented by various states and school districts, so that research as to what works should be undertaken by state and regional agencies and brought into the commonwealth system. Every region in the commonwealth should prepare lists of qualified vendors and courses and utilize these lists , along with other avenues that related to computer science, and update this data annually. To activate all of these methods and add as needed, the private, public and nonprofit sectors should join together to unify an approach toward common goals related to this topic.

Many local and regional foundations could be asked to support a computer science initiative. Organizations such as Junior Achievement and others such as chambers of commerce should be asked to support this process. A list of such groups should be compiled and utilized to help advance STEAM and focus major attention on ways to make this process an effective tool for economic and community development.

The U.S. Department of Education as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Education should support a regional approach. This has applicability in both urban and rural areas and many commissions and organizations could be tapped to ensure that a comprehensive action-focused agenda is carried out. To examine what may be possible, here are some ideas.

• Create a special regional task force on computer science, including Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Tech Bridge and entities such as school districts, colleges and universities, to help mobilize the resources and steps that can lead to more STEAM functions and better system of action within this region.

• Study what has been done in other states and apply their successes to this region.

• Create a new website just on STEAM and computer science and utilize it as a force for good in achieving success.

• Remote and hybrid learning has changed some school arrangements, so that there may be a need to advance the ways that teaching occurs, in years following the pandemic.

• Explore funding sources at the federal, state, regional and local levels to expand such opportunities across the region. Community foundations may be a viable place to be approached.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania could be asked to consider a study on this topic since the commonwealth has more rural people than any other state.

These and other ideas could be evaluated in coming months to enable STEAM and computer science to become harmonized across the region and the state in the near future.