Free Enterprise Day Highlights Workforce Development Need

Kristi Pronovost Merit Shop Spokesman Blog

By Brent Sailhamer, Director of Government Affairs, ABC Keystone

Every year, ABC members from across Pennsylvania come together in Harrisburg to take part in the advocacy program known as Free Enterprise Day. The day is packed with meetings with legislators, staff, and administration officials, incorporating networking and other helpful programs that benefit members.

This year was no exception as members spent a full morning in a busy Capitol building, discussing a variety of issues with legislators from every corner of the state. While the meetings were held with both Democrat and Republican lawmakers, many of the issues that were discussed had no party. Pennsylvania’s growing need for skilled workers crosses party lines and both Democrats and Republicans were eager to help shift policy to create a better working environment not only for employers, but for educators as well.

The major focus in this year’s Free Enterprise Day was an effort to reform Pennsylvania’s antiquated and inefficient apprenticeship system. The current system, which has been in place since 1961, allows collectively-bargained apprenticeship programs to set their own supervision standards, ensuring efficiency in supervision while also making sure workers are safe. For the vast majority of non-collectively bargained apprenticeship programs, Pennsylvania requires a ratio of four supervisors for each apprentice on the job. This arbitrary ratio has not only created a two-tiered system for training in Pennsylvania, but has also hampered employers’ abilities to hire and train new workers.

ABC was on hand to advocate for House Bill 559, which was introduced by Rep. Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland) and would codify universal access to safe, efficient supervision. The bill would allow the same access to supervision standards for all apprenticeship programs, regardless of signatory status. ABC members advocating for this and other issues got to see firsthand the machinations of state government as they walked the halls of the Capitol.

April 25, 2019