PMHS freshmen to learn ‘soft skills’ under new Comet Credential program

Penn Manor ninth-graders were introduced this week to a new initiative designed to help them develop the “soft skills” employers say are needed to succeed in the modern workforce.

All freshmen will complete online courses toward earning a Comet Credential, a certificate indicating they have completed training on a series of essential interpersonal skills and practices to help them succeed.

The courses include such topics as “Time Management: Quit Making Excuses and Make Time Instead,” “Making and Carrying Out Tough Decisions,” “Communication Methods that Make Sense – and Make Your Point” and “Difficult People: Strategies to Keep Everyone Working Together.”

The training won’t just help students who intend to join the workforce after graduation, but will give all students the tools to more successfully navigate their four years of high school and transition to college, training or a job, said Melissa Ostrowski, a Penn Manor High School counselor.

This is the first program of its kind targeting an entire high school class – more than 400 students – in Pennsylvania. Students will complete the courses in addition to their regular academic work.

The Comet Credential program is a collaborative effort involving local business representatives, the Lancaster County Workforce Development Board and CareerLink of Lancaster County, a partner of the American Job Center network.

The courses Penn Manor students will complete are the same ones that Lancaster County employers are offering to their workers as part of SkillUp Lancaster, an initiative designed to bolster the skills of the local workforce.

The Comet Credential program kicked off Sept. 27 with an assembly that included a presentation by Scott Fiore of Tri-Starr Staffing on the skills students will need to succeed in the job market.

“When you complete this training, you will be much better prepared for a job than your peers at other schools will be,” Fiore told the students.

Penn Manor freshmen will begin completing the courses Oct. 11 and will work on them throughout the school year.