Shapiro Administration looks to boost apprenticeships, construction trades

An additional round of grant funding to create more opportunities in Pennsylvania apprenticeships and construction trades was announced Monday by the Shapiro Administration. 

The additional $1 million round of grant funding was announced by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I). The funding is being made available to Pennsylvania registered apprenticeship programs to expand opportunities, promote diverse talent, and reach underrepresented populations withing the building and construction trades. 

Applications are due by 5 p.m. on April 26, 2023. 

L&I Acting Secretary Nancy Walker said her department is committed to serving the state’s workforce by creating more opportunities and pathways to success in apprenticeship programs. 

“Pennsylvania’s economic future depends on a well-educated and highly trained workforce,” Walker said in a statement. “These grants will open the doors of opportunity to more Pennsylvanians and grow our economy – a key priority of Governor Shapiro’s budget proposal.” 

Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget proposes a $23.8 million investment in workforce training and apprenticeship programs and strengthening skills-building programs that lead to family-sustaining wages. As a workforce development strategy, registered apprenticeships have a track record of success in advancing workers’ careers but are behind in serving populations that are underrepresented. 

In 2022, women represented just 13% of the completed Registered Apprenticeships and 15% of new apprentices, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Women comprised just 10.9% of the construction industry in 2022. 

L&I’s Apprenticeship and Training Office (ATO) was established in 2016 and is responsible for guiding and promoting the compliance and expansion of registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. The ATO supports 868 unduplicated program sponsors and 1,573 occupation-specific registered apprenticeship programs across Pennsylvania. 

Electrical apprentice program seeks applicants

IEC Pennsylvania, the state chapter of Independent Electrical Contractors, will be accepting applications Feb. 15-23 for its next electrical apprenticeship class, which begins this fall.

The four-year program – registered with the U.S. Department of Labor and Pennsylvania Apprenticeship and Training Council – is fulfilling a critical need as more electricians are retiring than entering the field while demand for their ranks is growing, a release explained.

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 79,900 openings for electricians are projected each year on average through 2031. The median annual wage for electricians in Pennsylvania was $68,660 in May 2021, which is an hourly wage of $33, not including benefits.

IEC Pennsylvania’s apprenticeship program covers residential, commercial and industrial construction and electrical wiring. Those accepted work full-time as apprentices for electrical contractors and attend employer-paid instructional classes in person and online.

“Choosing to become an electrician is an excellent career choice,” IEC Pennsylvania Executive Director Marissa Bankert said in the release. “It is a career that offers great earning potential and a great job outlook. In fact, our apprenticeship program boasts a 100% hiring rate upon completion. And graduates of the program are qualified as experienced electricians, not entry level.”

Applicants for IEC Pennsylvania’s apprenticeship program must be age 17 or over and have a high school diploma or their GED. To view eligibility requirements and apply, visit the “Apprenticeship” page of IEC Pennsylvania’s website.

IEC Pennsylvania also offers a state-registered pre-apprenticeship program for high school students and individuals interested in the electrical field. Pre-apprentices gain hands-on experience and opportunities to shadow electricians as they prepare for the apprenticeship program.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Lancaster County, Lehigh Valley awarded apprenticeship grants

Lancaster County and the Lehigh Valley received grants, announced by the state Department of Labor & Industry, as part of a $1.8 million allocation across Pennsylvania to continue the expansion of the commonwealth’s network of registered apprenticeship programs. 

Funding from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship Building America initiative will support the efforts of nine workforce development boards statewide to increase apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship opportunities among underrepresented populations. 

The local organizations awarded apprenticeship grants were: 

  • Lancaster County Workforce Development Board, $183,333: Lancaster Builds Apprenticeships will develop and implement a three-year strategic plan for expanding and building apprenticeships, which will be incorporated into local and regional Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act plans. This project will assist employers with reviewing curriculum, hiring diverse apprentices, and supporting models with financial incentives to offset costs. It 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 nontraditional pathways. 
  • 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 – 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 careers. 

“Pennsylvania’s registered apprenticeship system offers workers the opportunity to learn in-demand skills while they also earn a paycheck,” Labor & Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier said in a release. “For employers, apprenticeship is an investment in their workforce – something especially important for businesses competing for talent in an increasingly tight labor market. 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.” 

As of August, Labor &Industry’s Apprenticeship and Training Office supported 873 unduplicated program sponsors and 1,596 occupation-specific registered apprenticeship programs across the state, with 16,654 active registered apprentices. 

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer 


Electrical worker apprentices to receive new funding

New funding to provide training for more than 30 electrical industry apprentices in Pennsylvania, Governor Wolf announced. 


The funding totals $287,895 through Pennsylvania’s Pre-Apprentice and Apprenticeship Grant Program for Reading-based IBEW Local 743. 


“It’s vitally important to recruit and train the next generation of workers in the electrical industry,” said Wolf. “Apprenticeship programs like this one give trainees both the classroom work and the on-the-job experience to ensure there will be a continuous pipeline of talent to bolster the industry.” 


In partnership with the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) Penn-Del-Jersey Chapter, IBEW Local 743 will prepare 30-36 individuals from Berks, Lancaster, Chester, Montgomery, and Schuylkill counties to become Qualified Electrical Workers. The five-year program includes 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and 1,000 hours of classroom-related instruction. 


Chartered in 1918, IBEW 743 has been representing Pennsylvania electricians for more than 100 years. Communication workers, technicians, installers, and public works employees are also represented by IBEW 743. 


“The electrical industry has created a significant demand for Qualified Electrical Workers in our five-county area, and with the support of the DCED, our Apprenticeship Program will expand enrollment,” IBEW Training Director Ed Bernitsky said. “In an ever-changing industry, we can provide the most state-of-the-art training while our apprentices earn a fair wage and benefits.” 


Under Gov. Wolf, 86 pre-apprentice and apprenticeship programs have been supported and more than $13.5 million has been invested through Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Pre-Apprentice and Apprenticeship Grant Program. 


Increasing apprenticeship availability to Pennsylvania employers to assist them with their talent recruitment and development is an aim of DCED. To increase apprenticeship accessibility across the state, Pre-Apprentice and Apprenticeship Program funding is provided to eligible applicants. Expenses related to instruction that complements on-the-job learning are included in the funding. 


Individuals interested in attaining additional information about the Pre-Apprentice and Apprenticeship Grant Program and other economic development programs can visit DCED’s website. 

Yellow Corp. opens new truck-driving academy  

Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh were on hand Tuesday in Carlisle to open Yellow Corp.’s new truck-driving apprenticeship program. 

The tuition-free Yellow CDL Driving Academy will offer apprentice drivers four weeks of classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel training with an experienced and qualified teacher. Students are paid to earn their commercial driver’s license. 

Apprenticeships help build a skilled workforce pipeline to fill openings as new jobs become available and baby boomers retire. 

The programs prepare workers for success by equipping them to compete for good jobs with family-sustaining wages, the governor said in a release. “The investments we’re making in apprenticeships and other forms of hands-on and on-the-job training are already helping us get more Pennsylvanians into careers where they can succeed. This is more important than ever as Pennsylvania’s economy continues to rebound following the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Labor Secretary Walsh added: “The success of Yellow’s CDL academy in producing some of the safest drivers on the road reflects the great power and promise of apprenticeship to be a proven workforce tool in the trucking industry. The trucking apprenticeship challenge has shown that joint labor management programs and public-private partnerships are critical, and that we succeed when we work together.” 

Yellow Corp. employs 32,000 transportation professionals throughout North America and transports more than 20 million shipments annually for more than 250,000 customers. It recently onboarded the largest number of new trucks in its history with advanced safety and emissions reduction technologies, while opening 17 more driving academies. Yellow is also working to increase the number of female drivers through its Women’s Inclusion Network. 


Workforce grant program to offer $1.5 million to building and construction apprenticeship programs 

Apprenticeship programs within the building and construction trades are eligible for part of $1.5 million in grant funding through Pennsylvania’s workforce diversity grant program. 

Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier announced on Tuesday that the new round of grants will be available to state apprenticeship programs to develop diverse talent pipelines and reach underrepresented populations within building and construction. 

Applicants will design or build new or design upon existing apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs to reach underrepresented populations, the department wrote in a release. 

“There’s no question that diversity within the workforce promotes equity among workers, innovation within business and strength in our economy overall. One extremely effective way of achieving workforce diversity, equity and inclusion is through apprenticeship programs that allow workers to earn while they learn,” Berrier said. 

The grants are offered through the department’s Apprenticeship and Training Office. The Wolf Administration established the office in 2016 to support and expand apprenticeship programs across the state. 

The grant is meant to help programs target women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, veterans, socio-economic disadvantaged individuals, individuals who speak English as a second language, individuals who were previously incarcerated or individuals experiencing multiple barriers to employment. 

Applications for grant funding are due by April 21. 

York Electrical Institute to receive $296,061 for apprenticeship program 

The York Electrical Institute is set to receive $296,061 in funds through the state Pre-Apprentice and Apprenticeship Grant Program to help train the next generation of in-demand apprentices. 

Gov. Tom Wolf announced the award on Monday, which will be used by the institute to improve the quality of its electricians’ registered apprenticeship program. 

“Supporting programs that allow Pennsylvanians to earn a paycheck while they learn valuable skills is one of the best investments the commonwealth can make,” said Wolf. “Apprenticeship programs such as the ones offered at York Electrical Institute help prepare a new generation of skilled electricians while creating a sought-after pipeline of workers that our businesses need to thrive.” 

The funding will be used to purchase new equipment including: a Lab-Volt Rigging Trainer that allows for the safe movement of heavy pieces of equipment and teaches students how to conduct pre-use equipment inspection; dissectible motors for hands-on construction/reconstruction and operation of multiple machine configurations; and a solar and wind trainer for interactive, alternative energy systems learning. The institute will also purchase 12 classroom laptops to run 3-D Building Information Modeling software that is used in all aspects of construction. 

“We are extremely grateful for this generous investment in electrical apprenticeship in South Central PA,” said Timothy Griffin, director of education at York Electrical Institute. “This will help us carry out the mission of training new electrical workers on foundational and emerging technologies through high-quality hands-on instruction. Apprentices will be able to safely acquire and practice new skills necessary to succeed in this expanding and ever-changing industry.”     

The York Electrical Institute offers three pre-apprenticeship programs including its Youth Bootcamp, the Interim Credentials Program and the Adult Pre-Apprenticeship Program. 

TranZed teaming up with Technology Council for apprenticeship program

(Photo: Getty Images)

Baltimore-based TranZed Apprenticeships, a non-profit organization working with companies and other non-profits around the country to promote modern apprentice programs, has partnered with the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania (TCCP) to help find jobs for local skilled workers.

TranZed will work with the Harrisburg-based council to provide technology apprenticeships to Pennsylvania companies looking for high-skilled employees. The apprenticeship programs offer workers looking for alternative career paths while combining on-the-job training with job-related classroom instruction.

In addition to providing apprenticeships to TCCP members, TranZed Apprenticeships will also offer its “Open 4 Apprenticeships” toolkit and consultation to educate businesses about the benefits of modern apprenticeships.

“We’re excited for the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania to join us in the apprenticeship revolution, a movement to train and connect skilled workers with employers in need of talent,” said Paul Champion, president of TranZed Apprenticeships. “Apprentices earn and learn at the same time, closing the skills gap and becoming crucial additions to the modern workforce.”

Established in 1990, the TCCP is a technology trade association with a mission to connect its members and organizations to promote technology and spur economic development throughout the region. The group offers business development opportunities and helps to attract and retain highly-skilled workers in the midstate.

“We see our new partnership with TranZed Apprenticeships as an innovative way to help our members recruit and retain the best talent while also distinguishing themselves and the technology community throughout Central Pennsylvania within a highly competitive national pool of employers,” said Ann Hughes, president and CEO of the TCCP.

Why apprenticeships are the future of our economy

Not all successful careers start with a college degree.

I understand it may seem strange for a community college president to say that a college degree is not necessary to have a career that earns a family-sustaining wage. At HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, this philosophy is reflected through our new purpose statement: Learning for all; learning for life. We need more education, community and government leaders to make it possible for Central Pennsylvania’s citizens to pursue alternate educational pathways before jobs leave our region.

Many Americans can’t afford, and shouldn’t think, that the only path to a successful career is through two- or four-year degrees. In fact, the four-year-college student graduates with an average of $28,650 in debt, up from $17,350 in 2000. This statistic does not include those who accumulate debt and never earn a degree. Nationally, our manufacturers cannot afford to think this way either when they face a projection of 2.4 million unfilled jobs in manufacturing over the next decade.

One way individuals can pursue a successful career without a two- or four-year degree is through apprenticeships, which are an excellent vehicle for transferring the skills of our aging workforce to new employees.

HACC is a post-secondary educational institution that closely examines the job and industry needs of our community and develops educational pathways that meet those needs.

In 2017, HACC’s Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) Apprenticeship Program was developed in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. This 18-month program teaches entry-level individuals how to set up, operate, monitor and control production equipment. Graduates earn a journey worker credential from the United States Department of Labor, and a certified production technician credential from the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council.

In 2018, HACC, in partnership with High Hotels, Ltd., launched the first Hospitality Apprenticeship Program in Pennsylvania to provide low-skilled staff a pathway from entry-level jobs to management.

In 2019, HACC worked with Geisinger Emergency Medical Services to launch this region’s first Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) apprenticeship approved by the Pennsylvania Training and Apprenticeship Council. Upon completion of the EMT apprenticeship program, the employee will have all of the necessary certifications to serve as an EMT throughout the country. Additionally, these certifications provide a pathway toward paramedic certification and articulations to the Health Science Program at HACC.

In these apprenticeship programs, students work and take classes one or two nights a week at HACC. The skills they gain at the worksite, paired with the technical training they receive through HACC, allows them to earn as they learn. This support for our industries reaches beyond the traditional trades.  Many of these apprenticeships not only prepare students for the workforce, but they provide credits that can be applied to other degree programs.

HACC is also partnering with high schools in our region to offer pre-apprenticeships to high school students.

Apprenticeships are not only an investment for our College, but for our business partners, government, community and students. They take time to develop, authorize and implement. HACC knows this time investment is worth it for the future of our workforce and economy. I encourage you to take the time to discover how to pave the way for new educational pathways, like apprenticeships, for our community.

John J. “Ski” Sygielski, Ed.D., is president of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, and can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @HACCSki.

New apprenticeship program for STEM ‘Jobs that Pay’ in agriculture

Wolf administration officials today introduced a new apprenticeship program to prepare agriculture equipment service technicians for “jobs that pay” by developing hands-on skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Pennsylvania will face more than 1,000 job openings by 2027 as current farm equipment mechanics and service technicians retire. The Agriculture Equipment Service Technician apprenticeship was developed to train more than 1,000 Pennsylvanians to repair and maintain electronics, global positioning and information systems, and other emerging technologies.

The program includes a pre-apprenticeship option for students enrolled in FFA’s agriculture education programs that offer agriculture mechanics and supervised agriculture experience programs.

High school students in these programs may request credit to be applied to the classroom and on-the-job training portion of the apprenticeship.

Apprentices will earn pay increases as they pass learning milestones outlined in the program, which requires 400 hours of classroom instruction and approximately 4,000 hours of on-the-job training. As a competency-based program, students must demonstrate their mastery of skills ranging from interpersonal communication and critical thinking to material fabrication and welding, engine and machinery systems.

Apprentices who successfully complete the program will receive U.S. Department of Labor certification as a journey person, without the time and debt of a formal college education.

Registered apprenticeships offer a diverse group of non-traditional students a framework for hands-on learning in high-demand sectors of the economy. Apprentice programs also can open up new access for women, minorities, and military veterans who might not have considered these opportunities in the past.

“The agriculture equipment service technician apprenticeship was created to fill a workforce need identified by local businesses,” said Department of Labor & Industry’s Deputy Secretary for Workforce Development Eileen Cipriani. “The apprenticeship program is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania and will be used as a pilot program for other states experiencing a shortage of well-trained agriculture, industrial and outdoor power equipment technicians.”

The Northeast Equipment Dealers’ Association will sponsor the program, which will require at least one year to complete. Five regional equipment companies – original equipment manufacturer New Holland Agriculture and equipment dealers Binkley & Hurst, Deer Country Farm & Lawn, Hoober Inc., and Messick’s Farm Equipment – have agreed to hire and provide mentors to train the apprentices. The mentors ensure that classroom training is applied on the job.

Going forward, supporters hope to expand the program to other areas of the state. In addition to establishing entry points on the career pathway, developers hope to collaborate with post- secondary institutions to create certificate and degree programs for agricultural engineering.

Learn more about the department’s work to support workforce development in the agriculture industry at agriculture.pa.gov.