Shapiro Looks to Bridge Gap Between Infrastructure Demands and Skilled Workers with New Executive Order
HARRISBURG, Pa. (ErieNewsNow) - Today, Governor Josh Shapiro signed Executive Order 2023-17 in Pittsburgh. The order creates the Commonwealth Workforce Transformation Program (CWTP), which is designed to help companies, contractors and unions obtain skilled workers to get critical infrastructure projects done quickly and safely.
“If we want to grow our economy, if we want to build big things again in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, if we want to create real opportunity for our people, then we need to invest in our workers and expand our workforce,” said Gov. Shapiro.
According to officials today, a tight labor market is causing roadblocks for critical infrastructure projects.
"Pennsylvania is facing challenges of a historically tight labor market, fueled by historically low unemployment and record-high jobs. To overcome those challenges, we need to invest in the hard-working people of Pennsylvania,” said Labor and Industry Secretary Nancy Walker.
According to the administration, the CWTP is a first-in-the-nation job training program that provides workforce development grants to ensure companies, contractors and unions have the skilled workforce they need.
The program will provide grants of up to $40,000 for each new employee hired and trained by organizations doing infrastructure work funded by the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) or the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). It would provide up to a maximum of $400,000 per contract or award under the IRA and IIJA.
The state will be able to reserve at least three percent of the funding from the IIJA and IRA to fund workforce development and on-the-job training. Shapiro says it could provide as much as $400 million for workforce training over the next five years, potentially creating 10,000 new jobs.
“The Commonwealth Workforce Transformation Program will help train the next generation of skilled workers in Pennsylvania and break down barriers that shut too many workers out of real opportunity. We’re going to build Pennsylvania’s infrastructure with the best, most highly-trained workforce in the country – and this initiative will be a model for other states to follow,” said Shapiro.
The grants reimburse employers for the cost of wages, payroll taxes and training costs paid to, or on behalf of, new employees. The grants can also be used for pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship program costs.
“If they commit to training them and keeping them on the job for at least six months, the Commonwealth will reimburse them for the cost of these workers and their training up to $40,000,” said Shapiro.
In 2022, Pennsylvania was graded a “C-” on its infrastructure report card by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The CWTP will be managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. Pennsylvania workers and employers can find details on the program, eligibility information, and other resources here, or at pa.gov/newjobs.