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95 Years Later, Penn Commercial Still Going Strong

With the announcements that Pittsburgh Technical College (PTC) and Triangle Tech are closing, many people are wondering about the future of technical training in southwestern Pennsylvania. While those two institutions have helped to mainstream the skilled trades as a career choice over their decades in higher education, one school just a few miles south of Pittsburgh has been training students in many of the same disciplines for more than 95 years.

Located just a few miles south of Pittsburgh in Washington, PA, Penn Commercial Business/Technical School provides focused education in industries with a high demand for skilled professionals. Specifically in the trades, Penn Commercial offers programs in Electrician, Welding Technology, HVAC-R, Computer Aided Drafting and Design (CADD), and Information Technology and Security. The latter three programs result in a specialized associate degree after successfully completing 18 months of instruction and externships. All of these programs and similar had been offered by PTC and Triangle Tech, before they closed their doors to incoming students.

“It feels like we’re Pittsburgh’s best kept secret as far as trade and tech schools go,” says Rick Szymanski, marketing director at Penn Commercial. “We’ve been educating students for longer than those two other schools, and we’re still going strong!”

Established in 1929, Penn Commercial has evolved over the past century by focusing on training in much needed career fields. While other schools and universities have seen their enrollment numbers drop in recent years, Penn Commercial succeeds because of their willingness to adapt to the changing higher education landscape.

“I’ve been here since early 2019,” says Szymanski. “Since then, interest in our school has grown by more than 35%. That’s a result of recognizing the industries with the best prospects for success for our graduates, having dedicated, experienced faculty, and maintaining relationships with local employers.”

A region that takes pride in a tradition of industry and blue collar values, Pittsburghers are no strangers to hard work. After all, this is coal and steel country. Generations have grown up throughout these hills and valleys understanding what it takes to build a strong nation. Penn Commercial continues that tradition by favoring hands-on training over classroom lecturing and bookwork to build skills and experience. That’s something that sets trade schools apart from traditional universities. And that’s where Penn Commercial succeeds.

“With the closing of PTC and Triangle Tech, people may be questioning the viability and usefulness of trade schools. That’s understandable,” says Szymanski. “But those two schools had their own challenges that they weren’t able to overcome. Here at Penn Commercial, we’re as solid as can be. Each month we’re getting more emails and info requests than previous years.”

“We welcome those students who were promised a future by PTC and Triangle Tech. It might be a bit farther of a drive for them, but we have great teachers in comparable programs who are dedicated to our students’ career success.”

Penn Commercial offers a dozen programs in the trades, tech, beauty and medical fields. Learn more at PennCommercial.edu

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