WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to bring greater access to job training programs to Pennsylvanians, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) has voiced his support for an application for a Department of Labor grant submitted by a consortium of twenty-two Workforce Investment Boards and 12 community colleges in Pennsylvania.
“The training and educational opportunities that this grant would enable will provide workers with a skill set that is in high demand among Pennsylvania manufacturers,” said Senator Casey. “A skilled workforce is essential to driving the recovery, and preparing Pennsylvanians for jobs that are in-demand is an important way to strengthen Pennsylvania’s economy.”
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor, Senator Casey highlighted the growing need for skilled workers in Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector. To fill this need, Workforce Investment Boards will partner with local industries and community colleges to develop training programs to meet the skill needs of local businesses.
Senator Casey’s letter to the Department of Labor is below:
The Honorable Hilda L. Solis
Secretary of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210
Dear Madam Secretary:
I understand that the Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board, on behalf of an impressive consortium consisting of the twenty-two workforce investment boards in Pennsylvania, has submitted a proposal to the Department of Labor under the Workforce Innovation Fund grant program. I write today to express my strong support for this proposal and urge you to give this application full and fair consideration.
This coalition is partnering in an effort to address Pennsylvania’s troubling and growing gap between the skills employers need and those possessed by the workforce. This skills gap is particularly acute in the Commonwealth’s manufacturing sector. A December 2010 report by the Pennsylvania Center for Advanced Manufacturing Careers found that the number of individuals completing training for precision machining occupations is sufficient to meet only five percent of annual openings in this sector. This report provides clear evidence of the difficulties manufacturers in Pennsylvania experience in matching skills with available positions.
The program proposed by the consortium aims to train workers to fill this gap. Specifically, these funds, if awarded, will assist with the creation of a mechatronics and industrial maintenance training program in partnership with Pennsylvania manufacturers and community colleges. I believe that Pennsylvania’s excellent workforce development institutions, in partnership with the Commonwealth’s manufacturing sector and community colleges, can help close the skills gap and train our workforce for current job opportunities.
Workers who complete this program will receive a nationally-recognized certificate in industrial maintenance, which they could use to pursue and obtain an Associate Degree in Mechatronics Engineering Technology. These training and educational opportunities will provide workers with a skill set that is in high demand among Pennsylvania manufacturers.
The program proposed by the Pennsylvania workforce investment boards will involve a broad partnership of workforce development agencies, community colleges and other training providers, and employers. This is exactly the type of innovative program that the Workforce Innovation Fund was designed to support. I strongly support this effort and respectfully request that you give this proposal all due consideration.
While the skills gap both in Pennsylvania and across the nation is a significant problem, it also represents an opportunity. By supporting targeted training programs like the one reflected in this proposal, we can help those in need of work find jobs in growing fields.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. This grant, if awarded, can help improve job training programs and bolster the Commonwealth’s economy. Please include this letter in the official record of the application. Consistent with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations, I also respectfully request that you keep me informed of the status of this grant application.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator