Last week, Carrie Amann from the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association (PWDA) appeared before the Pennsylvania Republican House Policy Committee to share their thoughts on how to improve the workforce development system in the state.
Carrie focused on better preparing Pennsylvania’s workforce to meet the needs of employers and make Pennsylvania’s workforce the strongest in the nation.
Where are the Workers?
According to the Center for Workforce Information & Analysis, there is a shortage of workers in Pennsylvania, with only six available job seekers for every ten job openings. Local workforce boards have an essential role to play in bridging this gap. The local workforce development system partners with employers to recruit and retain skilled talent and support individuals in finding and keeping family-sustaining work.
Skilling Up Pennsylvania’s Workforce
The local workforce development system centers on re-employment with family-sustaining wages. Over 60 PA CareerLink® locations across the state serve thousands of workers, job seekers, veterans, and youth to help them acquire in-demand skills and be career-ready. Additionally, local workforce development boards work with community organizations to promote career opportunities and provide access to quality careers.
Workforce Development is Economic Development
Investing in workers’ skills and training is essential for attracting and retaining businesses, creating quality jobs, and improving the standard of living for all Pennsylvanians. Aligning economic and workforce development is crucial to maximizing business attraction and growth in Pennsylvania.
A simple policy change that could make the workforce development system more responsive to the needs of employers, workers, and job seekers is to make employment and workforce data available in real time. The current lag time of 12-18 months for data release makes it difficult for workforce partners to develop and deploy timely strategies. By accessing existing data, local workforce development boards can more efficiently address gaps in the service delivery system and improve transparency and openness in government.
Ultimately, PWDA is committed to working with businesses, educational institutions, community organizations, and government agencies to develop and implement programs that provide workers with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st-century economy. The association hopes to pass legislation that will #FreeTheData and make workforce data available in real time to local workforce agencies and stakeholders. The goal is to create a more competitive and prosperous Pennsylvania where all residents can benefit from a strong, resilient, and effective workforce development system.