PENNSYLVANIA – Governor Josh Shapiro, through the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, this week announced an investment of $23.8 million for apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs in Pennsylvania. This will address the workforce shortage head-on and create real opportunities for workers across the Commonwealth. One of the organizations that will be benefiting from this investment is the Finishing Trades Institute of Western PA (FTI WPA). They will be receiving $296,722 to expand apprenticeship opportunities for the construction industry in Western Pennsylvania.
Expanding apprenticeships boosts the Commonwealth’s economy by building robust pipelines between schools and the workforce, providing students with family-sustaining wages, while providing Pennsylvania businesses with the talent they need to succeed. The Shapiro Administration has a comprehensive plan to invest in apprenticeship programs, expand vo-tech, and bring career and technical education back into our classrooms.
To attract these apprentices, FTI WPA will expand its social media presence and strengthen existing relationships with workforce and community organizations. The apprenticeship curriculum will focus on the main needs of the industrial paint industry, specifically the removal of old toxic paint coatings from existing and aging infrastructure; application of new, safer specialty coatings that can increase the life span of infrastructure; and containment and proper disposal of old toxic coatings.
Through this funding, provided through DCED’s Pre-Apprentice and Apprenticeship Grant Program, FTI WPA plans to add approximately 20 new apprentices across more than 10 employers over the next three years.
“The apprentices participating in FTI WPA’s program will learn valuable skills as they prepare to enter the construction industry in the Commonwealth,” said DCED Acting Secretary Siger. “Investing in our people and apprenticeship programs like this one is a critical strategy to strengthen the Pennsylvania economy.”
In addition to time spent in the classroom, apprentices will use lab and shop space to experience real-life, hands-on demonstrations on how to safely and properly use tools and equipment during applications, use materials to practice on-the-job type activities in a controlled setting, and complete computer lab work on both International Finishing Trades Institute curriculum as well as research projects and exercises in virtual reality. This DCED grant money complements the work being done in the registered apprenticeship space at the Apprenticeship and Training Office (ATO), housed in the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.
“Apprenticeships are a pathway to specialized skills for Pennsylvanians, giving them a competitive edge without the need for college requirements or four-year degrees,” said Nancy Walker, Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I). “Apprentices can fast-track their careers to build better lives for themselves while contributing to Pennsylvania’s everchanging workforce, helping to strengthen our economy now and in the future.”
FTI WPA’s partners hope to increase the number of apprentices and journey workers they currently employ, especially because of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act dollars that have been designated for the removal of old coatings and applications of new coatings to bridges, overpasses, water tanks, and key infrastructure components that are deteriorating due to age and neglect.
“FTI of Western PA is extremely excited about the funding awarded by DCED,” said Brian Herbinko, Director of Training at FTI WPA. “This grant will assist our organization in continuing our comprehensive strategy to create a diverse and skilled workforce that benefits the workers and stakeholders in the Pennsylvania communities we serve.”
Pennsylvania’s Pre-Apprentice and Apprenticeship Grant program, administered through DCED, works to increase apprenticeship availability to Commonwealth employers to assist them with their talent recruitment and development. Funding is provided to eligible applicants for the purpose of increasing apprenticeship accessibility. Eligible uses of funds include expenses related to instruction that complements on-the-job learning.
Established in 2016, L&I’s ATO is responsible for guiding and promoting the expansion and compliance of all registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs across the Commonwealth. Today, the ATO supports 868 unduplicated program sponsors and 1,573 occupation-specific registered apprenticeship programs across the commonwealth, with 16,254 registered apprentices currently active.
For more information about the Pre-Apprentice and Apprenticeship Grant Program and other economic development programs, visit the DCED website.
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