Advocacy Blog_ABC_Keystone

By: Brent Sailhamer, Director of Government Affairs, ABC Keystone

Last year, the Wolf administration announced a pilot program aimed at encouraging growth in skilled trades – one of the most in-demand fields across the nation. The program utilized clawed-back funding from previous grants for corporate incentives to offer funding for expansion and innovation in apprenticeship programs. The program was so successful that it became the impetus for the PASmart program, a fully-funded $40 million package that was passed as part of this year’s budget.

Earlier this week, Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin and Labor & Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak provided an update on the roll-out of PASmart. The two agencies have worked in concert to provide tools to employers and educators in an effort to jump start skilled trade occupations across the Commonwealth. As part of the funding package, the Department of Labor & Industry offers $7 million in grant funding for the expansion of apprenticeship programs, while DCED also has grant funding available directly for employers to encourage participation in apprenticeships. Employers can apply directly to the Department and receive roughly the equivalent of a year’s tuition for an apprentice. Other funding is available for educational institutions to incorporate or build career readiness programs and for local workforce agencies to better communicate within their networks.

The dual press conference also highlighted the benefit of apprenticeships, which was marked by Secretary Oleksiak’s goal to double the number of apprentices, currently at over 16,000 statewide, by 2025. Eric Ramsey, who serves as the Director of Apprenticeship and Training, was also part of the conference and encapsulated the benefit of hands-on learning – “when you have inspiration, you have innovation,” said Ramsey. “Apprenticeships offer that.”

August 22, 2018