Pennsylvania Expands Apprenticeship Opportunities

Jennifer BerrierPennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier (Credit: Commonwealth Media Services)

PENNSYLVANIA — Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier recently announced grant awards totaling $1.8 million to continue the expansion of Pennsylvania’s growing network of registered apprenticeship programs.

With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship Building America initiative, L&I will support the efforts of nine local workforce development boards (LWDBs) to increase apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship opportunities among underrepresented populations.

“Pennsylvania’s registered apprenticeship system offers workers the opportunity to learn in-demand skills while they also earn a paycheck. For employers, apprenticeship is an investment in their workforce – something especially important for businesses competing for talent in an increasingly tight labor market,” Berrier said. “These grants will provide further structure and support for apprenticeships, solidifying opportunities to earn family-sustaining wages without taking on debt so individuals can continue to thrive in the commonwealth.”

The Apprenticeship Building America grant program enables states to expand and modernize registered apprenticeships by increasing the number of programs, adding apprentices, promoting diversity across industries, improving opportunities for underrepresented and underserved communities, and increasing accessibility and equity of programming for all apprentices.

Established in 2016, L&I’s Apprenticeship and Training Office (ATO) is responsible for guiding and promoting the expansion and compliance of all registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs across the commonwealth. As of August 2022, the ATO supports 873 unduplicated program sponsors and 1,596 occupation-specific registered apprenticeship programs across the commonwealth, with 16,654 registered apprentices currently active.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that, on average, apprentices earn a starting wage of $77,000 per year after graduation and are on track to earn $300,000 more over their careers compared to workers who do not graduate from an apprenticeship program. For every dollar spent on apprenticeships, employers get an average of $1.47 back in increased productivity.

The following organizations have been awarded apprenticeship grants:

Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corporation (Advance Central PA)
(Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties – $183,333)
Advance Central PA aims to build an apprenticeship ecosystem in the region focused on equity and industry demand, including one new registered apprenticeship program and one new pre-apprenticeship program based on data and designed to meet industry needs. Twenty-seven apprentices and 27 pre-apprentices will be enrolled, with an emphasis on serving underrepresented populations and a goal of building a sustainable model that can be scaled to new programs for long-term success.

Bucks County Department of Workforce and Economic Development and MontcoWorks
(Bucks and Montgomery counties – $366,666)
The Bucks County Department of Workforce & Economic Development (WED) and MontcoWorks will fund a new apprenticeship-focused initiative to serve their workforce development areas in the Greater Philadelphia region. The partners will develop two registered apprenticeship programs in construction and two registered pre-apprenticeship programs in advanced manufacturing. This joint initiative aims to accelerate the growth of local apprenticeship ecosystems and expand a workforce pipeline of skilled talent in manufacturing and welding to ensure economic health within the region.
 
Delaware County Workforce Development Board
(Delaware County – $183,333)
Delaware County Workforce Development Board (DCWDB) will increase local capacity to support employers and sponsors to adopt registered apprenticeships and registered pre-apprenticeships to meet the local need for healthcare professionals, especially Emergency Medical Technicians. DCWDB will draft an apprenticeship strategic plan, increase the capacity of local staff to support Pre-RA/RA, and will support local healthcare employers to implement the apprenticeship model.

Lancaster County Workforce Development Board
(Lancaster County – $183,333)
Lancaster Builds Apprenticeships will develop and implement a three-year strategic plan for expanding and building apprenticeships in Lancaster, which will be incorporated into local and regional WIOA plans. This project will provide navigator support to assist employers with reviewing curriculum, hiring diverse apprentices, and supporting models with financial incentives to offset costs. The project will ensure career and technical education programs are duel-registered as pre-apprenticeships and students are receiving pre-apprenticeship credit as new programs are registered in non-traditional pathways.

North Central Workforce Development Board
(Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, McKean and Potter counties – $183,333)
This project will address the critical need for workers in North Central PA through the promotion, attraction and building of registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, with particular attention to underrepresented populations to boost diversity and inclusion. Collaboration will ensure that industry sponsors, employers and schools are provided guidance, technical assistance and incentives to develop registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.

Northwest PA Job Connect
(Crawford and Erie counties – $183,333)
Northwest PA Job Connect plans to partner with the Northwest PA Chapter NTMA and Early Connections to expand and enhance manufacturing and early childhood education apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships. Each program is committed to developing new apprenticeship opportunities within Erie and Crawford counties. Partnerships with the career and technical centers will be strengthened and developed to recruit youth into the career pathways of manufacturing and early childhood education.

Southwest Corner Workforce Development Board
(Beaver, Greene and Washington counties – $183,333)
Southwest Corner Workforce Development Board, to enhance and expand registered apprenticeships (RA) and pre-apprenticeships (Pre-RA) in the workforce area, will support the German American Chamber of Commerce (GACC) in registering a new RA and Pre-RA, with a focus on Electric Vehicle Technology or Information Technology. SCWDB will also work with GACC and other RA and Pre-RA providers in the area to promote existing programs and recruit participants for these programs. SCWDB will utilize existing connections with local schools to facilitate collaboration between more local schools and Pre-RA programs. As part of this project, SCWDB staff will work with subject matter experts to develop an actionable plan to continually enhance the RA and Pre-RA ecosystem in the Southwest Corner.

Three Rivers Workforce Development Board (Partner4Work)
(Allegheny County – $183,333)
Partner4Work (P4W) will lead the Allegheny County Apprenticeship Expansion project and focus efforts on supporting apprenticeship in 5 key industries in the region: Construction, Technology, Manufacturing, Financial Services, and Healthcare. The project will focus on 3 core activities: development of a regional apprenticeship plan; registration of new RA and Pre-RA programs; and expansion of existing pre-RA and RA programs.

Workforce Board Lehigh Valley
(Lehigh and Northampton counties – $183,333)
This project will create and sustain a multi-employer registered apprenticeship model known as the Lehigh Valley Apprenticeship Consortium – Industrial Training and Education Consortium (iTEC) in the Lehigh Valley to provide alternate career pathways for job seekers, students, and the community while targeting underrepresented individuals. The iTEC Apprenticeship Consortium will allow regional educators and industries to offer apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs for high-growth career outcomes.

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