The state, through grants totaling more than $397,000, seeks to create a pathway for populations underrepresented in the trades, including women and people of color.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Tuesday announced the grant awards to support registered pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs that help expand job opportunities, build diverse talent, and reach underrepresented populations in the building and construction trades.
“Registered apprenticeship programs give Pennsylvanians the opportunity to earn competitive wages and advance their careers. To deliver on this promise, L&I is committed to investing in apprenticeship programs that are finding innovative ways to ensure our workforce is representative of the community it serves,” L&I Secretary Nancy Walker said. “These programs will help alleviate barriers to access, create a talent pipeline that is equipped with the skills needed to be successful in the modern labor market, and ultimately strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusivity within the building and construction trades.”
Included in the pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs that were 100% federally funded with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) statewide activity funds are:
EVOLVE (Dauphin County) – $65,000 EVOLVE’s Youth Trades Academy engages high school students with career development and skills needed to obtain jobs in carpentry and electrical trades. EVOLVE will also update and expand their existing affirmative action plans and create a strategy that ensures diversity, equity and inclusion in their pre-apprenticeship program.
I-LEAD, Inc. (Berks County) – $62,255
In partnership with IBEW Local 743, I-LEAD aims to establish an outreach and training program that prepares Latino and African American candidates to apply for the IBEW’s registered apprenticeship program. The program’s objective is to enroll up to 25 students in the I-LEAD Registered Apprenticeship Preparation Program and qualify at least eight to successfully complete the IBEW entrance exam and interview process for admission to the registered apprenticeship program.
The awarded programs will receive grant funding through March 2025.
In the 2023-2024 budget, Gov. Josh Shapiro secured $23.8 million to build partnerships between career and technical education, as well as in-demand and non-traditional industries that are in critical need of workers.
According to a recent equity snapshot from the U.S. Department of Labor focused on demographic information, women only represented 13% of the completed registered
apprenticeships in 2022 and accounted for 15% of new apprentices. Overall, in 2022, women only made up 10.9% of the construction industry.
L&I’s Increasing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Building and Construction Trades through Apprenticeships and Pre-Apprenticeships initiative aims to create career pathways for populations underrepresented in the trades, including women, people of color, 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.
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.