July 13, 2024 12:38 am
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Shapiro Seeks to Expand Pennsylvania Workforce by Eliminating Barriers and Focusing on Career Training

Credit: iStock

Anzhe Zhang

Earlier this month, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro outlined his plan for investing in and expanding Pennsylvania’s workforce, with an emphasis on education and investing in the future.

Shapiro, who has fought for fair funding for Pennsylvania schools and has stressed the importance of technical education in the state, detailed a workforce plan that calls for more technical training, eliminating financial and education barriers for jobs, and promoting business-friendly grants that would incentive more employers to train and retain workers.

Workforce availability has been a problem within the state, especially in the last few years, as manufacturing businesses report being understaffed and small businesses struggle to find workers.

“We need to give Pennsylvania workers the opportunity to succeed, and that means giving every Pennsylvanian access to apprenticeships and vocational and technical training,” noted Shapiro. His plan will triple the amount of funding presently available in the state for apprenticeship programs. Estimates have shown that apprentices not only earn $300,000 more over their lifetime compared to their counterparts without apprenticeships, they also gain access to high-skill career fields like manufacturing and healthcare.

Shapiro also proposed an increase in career and technical training, with plans to work with the State Board of Education towards implementing more high school curriculums that would feature career and technical training. By increasing the current $90 million budget for vocational and technical education, Shapiro’s plan is betting that high school students will be better-equipped to join the workforce while exploring diverse career options.

Eliminating unnecessary requirements and licensing fees is also a major component of Shapiro’s plan to grow Pennsylvania’s labor force. The plan would eliminate four-year degree requirements for many state government jobs that are “clearly unnecessary,” potentially opening up thousands of positions that were previously inaccessible to some qualified candidates on the job market.

Shapiro also proposed eliminating occupational licensing fees, some of which cost hundreds of dollars, for many sectors within Pennsylvania’s economy. Furthermore, Shapiro would require licensing boards to get back to applicants within a maximum of 14 days, in an effort to protect local businesses from the cost and stall of licensing bureaucracies.

Other main planks of Shapiro’s plan to revitalize Pennsylvania’s workforce include lowering taxes, expanding grants for businesses that hire and train their workers, and creating an “Office of Workforce Development” that oversees job fairs and conferences for high school students, while connecting them with businesses and industries that are recruiting.