Skip to content

Category Archives: News

Workforce development news from Pennsylvania and across the U.S.

Wolf’s career and technical education plan is an investment in PA’s future


It is not often that Pennsylvania’s largest teachers’ union and a leading construction trade association join together on a shared priority.

But here’s one area where we will always agree: Pennsylvania needs to build a pipeline between excellent public schools and the good paying jobs that await students trained with the right skills.

In public education parlance, we call these programs “career and technical education.” Employers sometimes refer to them as vocational technical schools. 

However, we can all call them pathways to good-paying jobs. 

Our public schools have been working with employers to provide these opportunities to students for quite a while.

And, today, they’re doing it better than ever. But a lack of adequate investment, roadblocks to access, and an overemphasis on college as the only path to career success have hindered our efforts–and hurt our economy in the process.

Now more than ever, businesses are looking for students with technical skills – and they’re willing to hire these well-trained students right away, without the need for four-year college degrees. That’s why these kinds of programs have always been a good investment.

Read more.

Gov. Wolf calls on Trump for federal money for infrastructure projects


Gov. Tom Wolf is calling on President Donald Trump to “follow through” on promises he made during his State of the Union address to work with state and local governments on infrastructure projects.

In a letter to the president, Wolf urged Trump to send federal dollars to Pennsylvania so that the state can better tackle projects aimed at improving “deteriorating” infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

Wolf made his case clear in the letter: He said more than 30 percent of the state’s 6,470 county and municipal bridges more than 20 feet long are structurally deficient, despite a multiyear effort that’s seen “dramatic headway” at reducing that number statewide.

In recent years, Wolf said, PennDOT has invested $5 billion in completing 2,325 infrastructure projects, and an additional 707 projects worth $5.3 billion are underway.

That shows that Pennsylvania on a state level is committed to repairing roads and bridges. Despite that, he said it’s time for the federal government to supplement that effort.

“Clearly, there is a need for additional investment, beyond the state’s significant contributions,” Wolf said.

He said the state has identified 2,700 miles of interstate highway that need to be reconstructed or modernized, which could cost up to $14 billion. However, the state has been able to allocate only about $5.5 billion so far.

Wolf’s letter not only addressed roads and bridges, but also asked for financial assistance for water, wastewater and sewer systems.


According to a 2013 report from the Environmental Protection Agency, Wolf said, Pennsylvania will have to invest $14 billion over the next 20 years “to keep […]

Free career training available to Pennsylvania’s low-wage earners


A main barrier people face in getting better-paying jobs is mental, an employment specialist said.

“If you are open to some of the possibilities and you’re willing to apply yourself, there are opportunities out there,” said Rick O’Domes, manager of PA CareerLink Alle-Kiski.

His office helps people obtain high school equivalency diplomas, find their first jobs or add skills that help them find new jobs.

“People can come into the CareerLink and find out,” O’Domes said. “They just need to ask.”

The state has 58 CareerLink offices, which also are known as one-stop job offices, said Eileen Cipriani, the deputy secretary of Labor and Industry in charge of workforce devel­opment.

“We have a lot of workshops where you can improve your skills: improve computer skills, financial literacy skills,” she said.

All services are free and can help people find jobs, get promotions or find better jobs, she said.

“What we hear from a lot of businesses right now is that they’re looking for individuals in middle-skill jobs,” she said. These are jobs that require some kind of post-secondary education but not necessarily a degree, she said. Examples include forklift drivers and nurse assistants.

Pennsylvania also has more than 700 apprenticeship programs across the state with employers in traditional apprentice fields such as building trades and construction as well as nontraditional fields like manufacturing and health care, she said.

They allow people to obtain skills while earning a paycheck. At the end, “you’re making a good family-sustaining wage, and you generally didn’t incur any debt in […]

PA Republicans draw new congressional map that is as biased as the old one: Analysis


Last month the Pennsylvania Supreme Court instructed the state’s Republican-led legislature to draw a new congressional map after finding the existing one was an illegal partisan gerrymander that violated voters’ right to participate in “free and equal elections.”

On Friday, Republican leaders in the legislature submitted their new map for the governor’s approval. As directed by the Supreme Court, the new map is much more compact than the old one. Gone are the infamous convolutions that characterized the old map, earning nicknames such as “Goofy kicking Donald Duck.”

Read more.

GOP leaders unveil revamped PA congressional map


Republican leaders of the Pennsylvania Legislature on Friday produced a new proposed map of the state’s congressional districts, three weeks after the state Supreme Court declared the former map unconstitutional.

The proposal drafted by House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati would make widespread changes, eliminating dozens of municipal and county divisions while keeping nearly 70 percent of residents in their old districts.

They forwarded the map and other materials to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who has until Thursday to tell the justices if he supports it. If not, the court has indicated it will develop its own map.

Read more.


PA Republican Party throws its backing to Scott Wagner, Jeff Bartos for governor/lt. governor


Scott Wagner, a candidate who has distinguished his political career as being an outsider, became part of the party establishment on Saturday by capturing the state GOP endorsement in the governor’s race.

Wagner, a one-term state senator from York County, went into Saturday’s endorsement meeting having won five of six regional caucus straw votes.

The second highest vote-getter in those regional caucuses was House Speaker Mike Turzai, who announced on Saturday he was suspending his gubernatorial campaign to focus on electing Republicans to the state House of Representatives.

Wagner won the endorsement in a first round of voting, beating out retired Allegheny County health care executive Paul Mango, who also was nominated for the endorsement.

Pittsburgh lawyer Laura Ellsworth, who also is running for the GOP nomination, did not seek the endorsement.

Mango and Ellsworth have indicated they plan to stay in the race to try to capture the party’s nomination in the May 15 primary and be the Republican to take on Democratic incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf in November’s general election.

Also winning the party’s backing was Wagner’s declared running mate, Jeff Bartos of Montgomery County, over Lancaster County’s Gordon Denlinger and Cambria County’s Peg Luksik, who also were nominated for the endorsement for lieutenant governor.

Trump Signs Budget Deal to Raise Spending and Reopen Government

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Friday morning signed into law a far-reaching budget deal that will boost spending by hundreds of billions of dollars and allow the federal government to reopen after a brief shutdown.

In an early morning tweet, Mr. Trump said he had signed the bill, adding “Our Military will now be stronger than ever before. We love and need our Military and gave them everything — and more.”

Read more

Gov. Wolf’s 2018-19 budget plan: Winners and losers


Gov. Tom Wolf’s fourth budget plan calls for more money for public schools,  and fighting heroin and opioid addictions, while trying again to impose fees on some municipalities to help pay for state police coverage.

Here’s a look at the winners and losers in his proposed $33 billion budget for 2018-19:

Public schools: The budget proposal would raise funding for public schools to a record level.

Taxes: Wolf swings again at a severance tax on gas drilling, but isn’t otherwise pushing for new or increased taxes.

Health and humans services: Wolf is proposing some increases in funding.

Opioid epidemic: Wolf is proposing an increase in funding to fight drug addiction.

Harrisburg: The city will continue to collect money it’s been getting for fire protection of the Capitol.

State Police: Wolf is again proposing to levy a fee on municipalities that rely solely on state police for police coverage.

Universities and colleges: The state-owned universities will see an increase smaller than they’d wanted in the budget, but that’s more than the state-related schools — Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln — will see. 

Environmental protection: Wolf is proposing to increase spending, but it’s a drop in the bucket after years of flat or reduced spending.

Legislature: It won’t see any cuts, but Wolf isn’t proposing to increase the House and Senate budgets.

State workers: Wolf is looking to reduce the workforce overall, but through attrition rather than layoffs.

Read more.

In blow to GOP, Supreme Court won’t block PA redistricting


HARRISBURG, Pa. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let a court-ordered redrawing of congressional districts in Pennsylvania proceed, denying a plea from Republicans legislative leaders to block it.

Justice Samuel Alito, who handles emergency appeals from Pennsylvania, rejected the request from the GOP leaders and voters that the court put on hold an order from the state Supreme Court that could now produce new congressional districts in the coming two weeks.

The Pennsylvania high court ruled last month that the map of 18 districts violated the state constitution because it unfairly benefited Republicans.

The U.S. Supreme Court typically does not review state court decisions based on a state’s constitution, but the Republicans asked the high court to make an exception.

The decision comes just four days before the Republican-controlled Legislature’s deadline for submitting a replacement map for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to consider.

The Democratic-majority state Supreme Court has ruled that if lawmakers and the governor can’t agree to a plan, the court will quickly move to adopt one.

Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation has been 13-5 in favor of Republicans during the three election cycles since the GOP-drawn 2011 map took effect. Democrats have about 800,000 more registered voters than Republicans and hold all three statewide row offices, but Republicans hold solid majorities in both chambers of the Legislature.

Read more.

Philly Congressman Bob Brady will retire from Congress after 20 years


U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, holder of a safe-for-Democrats Congressional district anchored in South Philadelphia, said Wednesday that he will not be seeking an 11th term in Congress this year.

Brady’s announcement, characterized as a retirement, came at a meeting of city ward leaders, according to

Brady’s departure continues a major reshaping of Pennsylvania’s 18-member House delegation.

Already, five Republican House members elected in 2016 have said they will retire after this year or, in the case of former Rep. Tim Murphy from western Pennsylvania, already resigned.

Brady, 72, who was first elected in 1998 and has long chaired Philadelphia’s Democratic Committee, had already drawn serious primary opposition for this spring.

He told that he was leaving out of concerns over a potential redistricting ordered by the state Supreme Court last week, and to spend more time with his family.

The decision was not related, he said, to a federal investigation into a 2012 payment Brady’s campaign committee had allegedly made to a potential Democratic challenger in that year’s primary.

That challenger subsequently dropped out of the race.

Two of Brady’s closest political aides were charged, but Brady told the news outlet that the probe was not a factor in his decision.

Read more.

PA Workforce Development Association