Wolf Administration Announces Pilot Initiative to Avert Company Layoffs, Increase Number of Skilled Workers in Pennsylvania

$500,000 awarded to six southeast Pennsylvania counties for their IT sector

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Deputy Secretary Eileen Cipriani and Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Deputy Secretary Carol Kilko announced a pilot initiative that utilizes a proactive approach to assist Pennsylvania workers and employers to avert layoffs.

“The goal of this initiative is to align workforce development, economic development, and education entities on both the state and local level to help Pennsylvania businesses grow and thrive,” said Deputy Secretary Cipriani. “L&I and DCED have built a strong collaborative relationship to provide a “no wrong door” approach for business services.”

The pilot initiative is part of Pennsylvania’s Rapid Response program, which was developed to help dislocated workers who are part of a large layoff. Its primary objective is to provide workers with the resources and services they need to allow them to find new jobs or get the training and education needed for new careers so that they can get back to work quickly when layoffs occur.

The purpose of this initiative is for Rapid Response to evolve from a layoff response model to a comprehensive economic transitional model; a model that is pro-active and uses layoff aversion as one of its central strategies.

Cipriani also announced a $500,000 award to the Southeast Pennsylvania Regional Workforce Developments Boards, which includes Chester, Berks, Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. The funding will be used to address critical staffing needs within the region’s information technology (IT) sector. While this sector continues to grow, there is a potential risk for a future industry downturn due to a shortage of skilled workers.

“Early engagement with employers has indicated that a looming IT skills gap puts businesses at risk of having to downsize, relocate or close because companies can’t meet their workforce needs,” Cipriani added. “Providing funding through the Rapid Response program to upskill workers in the IT sector is a proactive approach to avoiding employee layoffs and helping businesses meet their staffing needs.”

In addition to promoting workforce development through the new approach to Rapid Response funding, the Wolf Administration has been actively engaged in providing funding support for incumbent worker training to companies across the commonwealth. During today’s press conference, Deputy Secretary Kilko announced that in fiscal year 2017-2018, the administration provided more than $6.5 million in funding through its incumbent worker training program. This funding supported the training of more than 26,000 employees at nearly 700 businesses, bringing the total number of employees trained to more than 146,000 and total companies assisted to nearly 3,000 since the start of the administration.

“Incumbent worker training has been an absolutely vital component of the Wolf Administration’s workforce development strategy, empowering workers with the skills they need to succeed and helping businesses strengthen their employee base,” Kilko said. “Almost 150,000 Pennsylvania workers have been trained through our incumbent worker training funding since the beginning of 2015, and we are excited to continue to support our workers and businesses.”

Governor Tom Wolf’s PAsmart initiative is cutting red tape and improving coordination between state agencies. The governor recently signed an executive order to place his private sector workforce advisers – the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board – in a leading role to coordinate job training and other workforce development initiatives across the commonwealth.

PAsmart is the governor’s new and innovative initiative that will invest $30 million in job training and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and computer science learning.

For more information about furthering career skills in Pennsylvania at any stage of life, visit PAsmart.

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Penny Ickes, L&I, 717.787.7530
Michael Gerber, DCED, 717.783.1132

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