Lancaster YWCA career program commended by L&I Secretary

YWCA Lancaster was commended Monday by Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier for its New Choices Career Development program.

Funded by the Pennsylvania Women Work organization through L&I’s New Choices New Options grant, the New Choices Career Development program offers Pennsylvanians the opportunity to use personal development, career guidance, and job training to gain economic self-sufficiency.

“By empowering individuals with job search and interview skills, opportunities to build their confidence and support to achieve personal goals, New Choices programs are helping Pennsylvanians negotiating the labor market to find lasting employment that pays a family-sustaining wage and improves their overall quality of wife,” Berrier said while touring the recently renovated YWCA facility. “The critical program would not be possible without the perseverance of the Pennsylvania Women Work organization and organizations like the YWCA Lancaster who offer the New Choices program.”

The aim of New Choices Career Development programs is to provide the skills and resources to single parents, individuals entering the workforce or going through life transitions. The programs are available throughout Pennsylvania and open to all residents, though their focus is primarily on individuals 18 years old and over. Program topics include Career assessment, Career counseling, Resume preparation, Interview instruction and practice, Skills identification, Referrals and connections to community resources, Exploration of education and training resources, and Salary negotiation.

“Our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women is more important than ever, as the pandemic did not affect all people equally,” YWCA Lancaster Chief Executive Office Stacie Blake said. “For all women in our community to be able to thrive, we need vital programs like new Choices to support our community members in transition, re-entering the workforce or seeking new opportunities. We’re proud to have the support of Secretary Berrier, as well as so many important community partners who help make this work possible.”

The YWCA Lancaster New Choices program has for nearly 40 years helped thousands of women in Lancaster, York, and Chester counties gain economic and emotional independence.

The program was founded in 1985 via a collaborative effort by YWCA Lancaster, Junior League of Lancaster, and Lancaster County Career and Technology Center.

Manufacturers’ Association expands pre-apprenticeship program, adds coordinator 

The Manufacturers’ Association will expand its manufacturing pre-apprenticeship program with the hiring of a pre-apprenticeship coordinator. 

Miranda Martz, a recent graduate for the York-based association’s state certified apprenticeship machinist program, took the lead in growing the program in southcentral Pennsylvania earlier this month. 

The Manufacturers’ Association’s pre-apprenticeship initiative is a two-year program for mostly high school juniors and seniors. It started in 2018 and has grown from a focus on York County schools to include Lancaster and Perry counties. 

Students taking the program learn and practice the skills needed to enter full time registered apprenticeship programs sponsored by local manufacturing companies. 

The program received a $189,147 grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to expand the program to meet a growing need for workers among Pennsylvania’s 2,500 manufacturing companies. Martz’s hiring coincides with those new dollars, said Tom Palisin, executive director of the Manufacturers’ Association. 

“It gave us the push to really grow the program. We could have stuck with maybe Perry and York counties but with these resources we could expand into more counties,” said Palisin. “Someone needed to be the point person on that. This was way too important for the future workforce to not have someone on this.” 

Martz is the first female machinist journeyman graduate from the association’s apprenticeship machinist program. She joins her new role after six years as a lead of the CNC milling machining department of a local manufacturing firm. 

The new grant funding, couple with Martz’s hiring, will allow the program to have 60 students by the end of the year—compared to 15 in 2018. 

Pennsylvania to receive $100,000 grant for workforce digital literacy 

The state Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) announced on Tuesday that Pennsylvania will be awarded up to $100,000 to provide technical assistance to ensure job seekers have the skills needed to participate in a rapidly changing workforce. 

Pennsylvania has been chosen to join a collaborative of six states looking to prepare their workforce for the rapid changes in technology effecting workplaces through the National Governors Association’s Workforce Innovation Network (NGA WIN). 

“Pennsylvania workers deserve every opportunity for success in their careers, and this collaboration with the National Governors Association will support the Wolf Administration’s ongoing efforts to make digital-skills training accessible to Pennsylvanians and meaningful in their pursuit of gainful employment,” said L&I Secretary Jennifer Berrier. 

The money comes from the National Governors Association’s Workforce Innovation Network, or NGA WIN. Pennsylvania joins Hawaii, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Rhode Island in the NGA WIN program.  

Each NGA WIN team, consisting of representatives from Governors’ offices, workforce development agencies and state workforce boards, will work on a state vision for closing digital equity and workforce achievement gaps, according to a statement from L&I. 

Through grant program, states will be able to expand access to essential support services, connect jobseekers to work, advance digital access and skill development and enhance job quality. 

“Governors are leading with creative solutions to help workers and job seekers access the tools they need to succeed in a rapidly changing economy, and NGA is honored to support them,” said Timothy Blute, director of the NGA Center. “We look forward to working with these six states to help them develop and implement strategies to improve access to the digital skills that are increasingly essential to both workers and businesses.” 

NGA WIN was founded in January as a nonpartisan action collaborative for state leaders. Case studies and best practices from this first round of state grants are expected to be published this year. 

PA to launch series of virtual job training programs through PA CareerLink

Pennsylvanians will be able to access free online job training for subjects like marketing, project management, customer service and information technology through a new state program launching this week.

The state Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) said it will be launching its SkillUp PA online job training program on August 14. The program, offered through the PA CareerLink website, is part of the department’s initiative to transform the state’s workforce by supporting both “reskilling” and “upskilling” of Pennsylvania’s workforce.

Courses include hard skills such as accounting and finance, clerical and Microsoft Office; and  soft skills such as communication, time management and professionalism.

“This new virtual job training program is a true win-win for Pennsylvanians who need to enter the workforce or advance their career as well as the businesses who will get a new pipeline of the skilled workers they need to succeed,” said Sheila Ireland, deputy secretary for workforce development at L&I.

Pennsylvania is the 17th state to use the SkillUp program, created by New York-based Metrix Learning, a web-based learning management portal.

Metrix also created PA CareerLink, a website operated by the Department of Labor and Industry that allows job seekers to search and apply for openings across the state.

The department is funding the SkillUp PA program with $880,000 a year in federal funds for three years.

“Metrix has proven to be a significant asset in our community, specifically for those who desire virtual training”, said Cathy Rychalsky, executive director of the Lancaster County Workforce Development Board. “With over 12,000 job seekers, Lancaster Countians enrolled in nearly 41,000 courses. Metrix continues to provide a reasonable and viable option for those interested in learning new ways to enhance their skills.”

L&I invests $1.3M in computer skills programs for workforce development

Organizations with computer skills training programs across the state will be awarded part of a $1.3 million investment by the state Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) to strengthen Pennsylvania’s workforce.

Millersville University in Lancaster County, The Valley Lighthouse in Dauphin County and The Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon in Lebanon County are just a few recipients of the department’s Digital Literacy and Workforce Development Grants.

Organizations can receive up to $45,000 through the grant program to promote digital literacy skills for people looking for work.

L&I announced its list of winners this week. The program comes at a time where workers need skills to navigate the new economy emerging in the wake of the pandemic, said Jennifer Berrier, L&I’s acting secretary.

“The Digital Literacy and Workforce Development Grants will help ensure that workers develop the basic digital skills they need to succeed when applying for jobs and performing essential job duties that will be required of them in their new career,” said Berrier.

Millersville University, The Valley Lighthouse and The Literacy Council received $45,000 through the program.

Millersville University was awarded the funding in order to partner with two libraries to deliver computer and digital literacy training through both in-person instruction and online courses.

Funds given to The Valley Lighthouse, as well as SCPa Works on behalf of the Employment Skills Center in Cumberland County and the Perry County Literacy Council in Juniata and Perry counties, will go towards targeting digital literacy and career readiness skills for women displaced by the pandemic.

The Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon’s funds will go towards its Digital Literacy for Employment Success project designed to bridge the digital literacy gap within Lebanon.

“As Pennsylvania deals with the increased demand for employees to be able to telework, we must ensure that employees can effectively navigate the technology platforms used in the workplace,” said Sheila Ireland, L&I’s deputy secretary for workforce development.

Other recipients and their awards include:
• Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit (Columbia County: $45,000; Northumberland County: $45,000; Union County: $45,000)
• Intermediate Unit 1 (Washington County: $45,000)
• Jane and Annette Herr Memorial Library (Union County: $40,000)
• Northern Tier Workforce Development Board (Bradford County: $41,363; Sullivan County: $10,432; Susquehanna County: $21,019; Tioga County: $43,913; Wyoming County: $16,843)
• Tuscarora Intermediate Unit #11 (Mifflin County – $44,164)
• Blueprints (Greene County – $45,000)
• Intermediate Unit 1 (Greene County – $45,000)
• Literacy Pittsburgh (Allegheny County – $45,000; Beaver County – $45,000)
• Private Industry Council (Fayette County – $45,000; Westmoreland County – $45,000)
• Titusville Regional Literacy Council (Crawford County – $41,877; Forest County – $37,802)
• Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation, Inc. (Berks County – $45,000)
• Community Learning Center (Philadelphia County – $45,000)
• Full Circle Computing, Inc. (Chester County – $45,000)
• Goodwill Industries of NEPA (Lackawanna County – $45,000)
• Luzerne County Community College (Luzerne County – $45,000)
• Manor College (Montgomery, Bucks and Philadelphia counties – $45,000)
• Scranton Lackawanna Human Development Agency (Lackawanna County – $45,000)

L&I announces $2.6 million to prepare students for jobs post-pandemic

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry announced that $2.6 million in Schools-to-Work program grants is available to support new partnerships between schools and employers to create employment paths for students.

Through the program, grants will be awarded and funded in increments up to $250,000 to create learning opportunities for participating students that include classroom training, workplace visits, internships and more.

“The Schools-to-Work program grants will create hands-on learning opportunities for students, including apprenticeships, workplace visits and internships that will create career paths to employment or secondary education,” said Jennifer Berrier, the department’s acting secretary.

“These funds will help ensure that our workers obtain the industry-recognized skills, certifications or college credits needed to put them on a solid career path to employment and help meet current and future labor market needs.”

The grant program was first introduced to the House in early 2019 by Reps. Jared Solomon R-Philadelphia, Kate Klunk R-York and Aaron Bernstine R-Lawrence, Beaver and Butler counties. It was amended into House Bill 265 of 2019 and was approved by Wolf in late 2019

The program was created after the representatives learned of a partnership between Hanover Public School District and local businesses such as Utz, Elsner Engineering and Snyder’s. Through the partnership, the businesses created a curriculum and invested in equipment for students to learn trades and obtain certifications.

When creating the legislation in 2019, the representatives couldn’t have guessed how it could help rebuild the commonwealth following the pandemic and its ensuing economic downturn it caused, said Klunk.

“American manufacturing is on the rise, even despite the pandemic. The Schools-to-Work program is a wonderful opportunity for students to gain the knowledge they need for the jobs of tomorrow,” he said.

Pa. set to resume COVID-19 unemployment programs

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry is set to resume making payments through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs but could see a gap in benefits after a delay in approval by the federal government.

The department announced on Monday that more than 509,000 workers in the commonwealth could see gaps in their payments through unemployment assistance as it awaits approval from the federal Department of Labor.

Both the PUA and PEUC, as well as the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program all received extensions this month through the COVID relief package after President Donald Trump signed the $2.3 trillion bill into law Sunday night.

“The CARES Act extensions will ensure Pennsylvania workers who have been affected by the global economic downturn caused by COVID-19 will continue to receive the unemployment support they desperately need for themselves and their families,” said Jennifer Berrier, secretary for the Department of Labor and Industry. “L&I began reviewing the legislation last week when it was first unveiled and will resume making payments for the PUA and PEUC programs as soon as we get approval from the federal Department of Labor (DOL) to move forward.”

Under the new legislation, eligible claimants for the FPUC program will receive $300 per week on top of their weekly benefit amount. The program previously provided $600 per week to eligible claimants, which ended in July.

Payments under all three programs can’t resume until the state Department of Labor and Industry receives guidance and approval from DOL, which the department said could take several weeks.