Thousands of students learn job skills at Bidwell Training Center

Thousands of students learn job skills at Bidwell Training Center

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) —It’s called The Great Resignation – people quitting their jobs in droves wanting something different, something better.

The Bidwell Training Center has been providing job training for 50 years. Horticulture students grow herbs in a greenhouse, which will then be used by culinary students learning to professionally prepare food.

They’re among the 3,000 students learning job skills at Bidwell Training Center every semester at no cost to them.

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The Bidwell Training Center has been providing job training for 50 years.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)


Bidwell joined Manchester Craftsman’s Guild on the North Side in 1972, and Bill Strickland, who was CEO for about 50 years, said it has evolved.

“We transitioned from building trades to technology-based on what industry was telling us,” Strickland said.

The new CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, Kevin Jenkins, said Bidwell has advisory committees of professionals telling them what industries need now and how Bidwell can help.

Bidwell currently offers programs for culinary arts, horticulture, chemical laboratory technician, pharmacy technician, medical assistant and medical coder. The programs range from seven to 13 months long.

They’re working with local hospitals to help alleviate their employee shortages and are exploring new fields for the future.

“We’ve been having conversations on the technology front. AI, robotics, professions such as that, advanced manufacturing, things that we never did in the past,” Jenkins said.

Bidwell works to help each student succeed. Not only is it no cost to the student to attend, but Bidwell also has a fund to help students with other barriers that arise, like problems with transportation, a computer or phone or even broken eyeglasses.

“Those are the little things that may seem simple but at the end of the day could be the deciding factor if you continue in the program,” Jenkins Ais.

Everywhere you look at Manchester Bidwell, there’s beauty. Strickland designed the school to inspire students and show them the respect they deserve.

“That’s not accidental. That’s quite deliberate,” Strickland said. “And what we figured out through trial and error is that the kids perform better, the kids perform better in an environment like this.”

On average over the last five years, at least 80% of Bidwell’s students graduate and at least 80% of graduates are placed into jobs.

So many cities want a program like Bidwell and the MCG Arts Program for young people that it created is a way for cities to create similar educational environments. There are now 11 around the country and one in Israel. The newest one is opening in Westmoreland County this summer.

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