Wolf Administration launches next phase of PASmart initiative

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Gov. Tom Wolf signed Wednesday at a press conference in York an executive order aimed at cutting red tape and improving coordination between several state agencies to improve the delivery of workforce development services.

The executive order is part of the $30 million PAsmart workforce development initiative, the next phase of which was launched at the press conference.

“PAsmart is bringing together labor, industry, the tech sector, education, state government and more to connect people of all ages with STEM and computer science education, apprenticeships and other training needed to get good, middle-class jobs,” Wolf said. “By listening to workers and businesses, we will focus job training on in-demand jobs, create a talented workforce, and grow the economy for everyone.”

PASmart will increase STEM and computer science training for K-12 students, increase the number of STEM and computer science educators, invest $7 million to expand apprenticeships and provide a $3 million increase for the Department of Labor and Industry’s Industry Partnerships program, which connects businesses with educational and economic development partners to provide job training.

The executive order directs the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board (PA WDB), the governor’s private sector policy advisor to report to the Governor Office, improve coordination among state agencies, add the departments of Aging and Corrections, develop stronger reporting requirements and use data when creating policies, initiatives, strategies, and programs. The PA WDB will also provide recommendations for the distribution of the $30 million in PAsmart funding, which will be distributed through a competitive grants process.

“PAsmart is the result of stakeholders collaborating to equip current and future working Pennsylvanians with the skills they need in the 21st Century workforce,” Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale said. “This proactive response to Pennsylvania’s needs encourages comprehensive investment in our workforce through results-oriented approaches like high-quality apprenticeships and training programs that develop a worker’s skills while they earn a living wage. Governor Wolf’s PAsmart initiative and his bold efforts in workforce development breaks down bureaucratic barriers to promote innovation.”