Workforce recommendations will be a key part of budget proposal, Wolf says

    Gov. Tom Wolf shares the Command Center's recommendations in his reception room Monday (Screen capture).

    Gov. Tom Wolf offered another peak at his 2020 budget plan Monday, saying he’d include tens of millions of dollars in workforce development programs in his spending plan that were recommended by a public-private partnership that’s spent months studying the issue.

    “Our global competitiveness and economic vitality depend on it,” Wolf said during a Capitol news conference, “especially as many of our skilled works are approaching retirement age right now.”

    Wolf presented the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center’s report on Pennsylvania’s workforce. The Command Center, which was created last February, made 42 recommendations and outlined five barriers to employment.   

    The five barriers include:

    • Transportation
    • Affordable and reliable childcare
    • Lack of access to certain types of training
    • The complex nature of the state’s occupation licensure system
    • Reentering the workforce from the criminal justice system

    Wolf said that the center understands the “urgency” of their work.

    The center meets weekly to address workforce challenges, Wolf said. Including education, workforce development and economic development.

    The goal, he said, is to strengthen the state’s tiring workforce.  

    Wolf will unveil his 2020- 2021 budget next Tuesday with proposals to fund several of the command centers recommendations. 

    They include $12 million to fund evidence-based projects to boost the workforce and $2 million in funding to WEDnetPA, which helps businesses with training existing employees.

    In addition to the budget proposals, Wolf also said he and his staff would work with the Department of Labor and Industry to identify ways to leverage federal funding to support workforce development strategies and work to add more diversity to the state’s licensure boards to ensure that the diversity of the commonwealth is represented on the board.

    To the General Assembly, the Command Center recommended the following:

    • Increase access to high-quality childcare by evaluating the public and private funding model to create additional slots, reduce waiting lists and extend hours to help workers get reliable care for their children.
    • Expand opportunities to work by amending the state Criminal History Record Information Act so licensing boards only withhold licenses for convictions substantially related to the occupation.
    • Encourage workers to enroll in state-recognized job training programs by extending Unemployment Compensation beyond the 26-week maximum, which many programs exceed.

    To aid policymakers, Wolf announced that the data acquired by the Command Center would be made public on a data dashboard.

    “I think we can find ways to continue to build our workforce working together,” Wolf said.

    Cassie Miller
    A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.