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

New leader of Pa.’s public universities says they need change, fast: ‘It’s not a pretty picture’

From pennlive.com

The chancellor of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education is calling for “fundamental transformation and redesign” of the system’s 14 public universities without delay.

In delivering his first State of the System address after being sworn in on Wednesday to lead the system of nearly 100,000 students, Chancellor Daniel Greenstein said the system should be organized around students’ needs and not institutions.

After taking a comprehensive look at the system and the challenges it faces, he said, “It’s not a pretty picture.”

Enrollment is down. Public investment in the system sits at the same level it was in 12 years ago. What is supposed to be the state’s most affordable four-year degree has gotten out of reach for most low- and middle-income families. And competition amongst higher education institutions in this state is intense.

So what does he intend to do about it?

Plenty – and fast.

His vision includes keeping all 14 universities open but having them be less about competing and more about collaborating. It’s one where “every student on every campus has access to the full breadth of academic programming at every other campus in the system,” he said.

The chancellor spoke at the system’s headquarters in Harrisburg in front of an audience of 120 higher education and business leaders and students as well as Gov. Tom Wolf and the founding chancellor of the system James McCormick. He outlined his framework for the direction he’d like to see the system move.

Read more.

Bayer to close Pittsburgh operations, affecting 600 workers

From wbng.com

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pharmaceutical giant Bayer Corporation says it plans to close its administrative offices in Pittsburgh, affecting about 600 workers.

They include workers in finance, accounting, legal and technology jobs.

In November, Bayer announced it was laying off 12,000 workers by the end of 2021, or 10 percent of its workforce.

Bayer says in a statement released Tuesday the closure will happen over a two-year period.

It says the company has “the utmost appreciation for the employees and their families affected by this decision.”

Robinson Township Manager Frank Piccolino tells the Tribune Review that the community is shocked, and officials “did not see this coming at all.”

For decades the Pittsburgh site served at the German company’s North American headquarters. It lost that status in 2012 when the base was moved to New Jersey.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman takes the oath of office, plans to work in bipartisan manner

From pennlive.com

The former mayor of a small Allegheny County mill town who is credited with starting the work of rebuilding a downtrodden Braddock is now Pennsylvania’s second highest officeholder.

John Fetterman took the oath of office administered by Superior Court Judge Debbie Kunselman to become the state’s lieutenant governor in a ceremony that took less than half an hour from the moment he stepped foot in the ornate Senate chambers.

The 6-foot, 8-inch unconventional politician who often has been seen in cargo shorts or jeans and wearing a short-sleeved Dickies work shirt that showed off his tattooed arms, dressed up for his swearing-in ceremony donning a black suit, white shirt and plain black tie.

The Bible he used to take the oath administered by Supreior Court Judge Deborah Kunselman was the one given to him in 2008 as a member of the electoral college when he cast a vote for Barack Obama for president.

Gathered to witness his inauguration in the packed room along with wife Gisele and their three children were his ticket-mate Gov. Tom Wolf and wife Frances and their family. Additionally, Fetterman’s parents and other family members, his mother-in-law, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Jeff Bartos, the running mate of Wolf’s GOP gubernatorial opponent Scott Wagner, also were in attendance.

Read more.

PA state system of higher ed Chancellor Greenstein to be sworn in today

From capitolwire.com

He’s been leading Pennsylvania system of 14 state-owned universities since September, but Dan Greenstein will be sworn in today as chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).

For those who don’t remember, Dr. Greenstein became PASSHE’s fifth chancellor on Sept. 4, 2018, replacing former chancellor Frank Brogan, who retired on Sept. 1 after serving as chancellor for four years (Brogan is now the U.S. assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education). For the six year prior to his being selected as PASSHE chancellor, Greenstein served as director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Post Secondary Success Strategy, where he worked with other higher education leaders across the country on initiatives designed to raise educational-attainment levels and to promote economic mobility, especially among low-income and minority students.

Prior to join the Gates Foundation, he spent 10 years as provost in the 10-campus University of California system overseeing system-wide academic planning and programs, including the University of California Press; the California Digital Library; the UC system’s Education Abroad Program; internship programs in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento; and UC Online Education. Today’s event, which is to be attended by Gov. Tom Wolf, is to begin at 11:45 a.m. in Conference Rooms A/B/C of the Dixon University Center, located at 2986 North Second Street in Harrisburg.

Wolf sworn into office as PA governor, expresses hope for a state that works together to solve its problems

From capitolwire.com

Gov. Tom Wolf used the first official speech of his second term to not only focus on the accomplishments of the last four years – which said were collective victories – but also to express his hope that more could be achieved “together” during the next four years.

Claiming the state had been at a “crossroads” – a crisis of confidence in state government – when he first took office four years ago, the governor proclaimed during his second inaugural address that Pennsylvanians are no longer “stuck at a crossroads; We have chosen a path of progress. We have earned the right to feel not just proud of our past, but hopeful for our future.”

“We’ve gone from a Commonwealth at a crossroads to a Commonwealth on a comeback,” Wolf said.

“So, let us have faith in each other,” said Wolf closing his speech. “Let us have faith in what we can fix together, what we can achieve together – what we can build together.”

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for Wolf during his first term, which was punctuated by two significant budget impasses (one that lasted nine months, and another that four months), three of four state budgets being late, and plenty of combative disagreements with the Legislature regarding taxes, revenues, spending and policy.

During those four year, Republicans held significant majorities in both the state House of Representatives and Senate, and while Democrats made some inroads in both chambers during the 2018 election cycle, Republicans for the next two years will still hold solid majorities with which Wolf […]

As longest government shutdown continues, Pennsylvania businesses, agencies step in

From wpsu.org

With a federal government shutdown that’s the longest one in U.S history, some Pennsylvania businesses and agencies are stepping in. At Somerset Trust Company, that means offering furloughed federal workers no-interest loans.

“The workers are simply caught in the middle. It’s not their fault. They didn’t do it. And a lot of them live paycheck to paycheck,” said bank President Jeff Cook. He said the loans are his bank’s way of trying to help people in that community.

Workers who qualify can receive a $3,000 interest-free loan from the Somerset-based bank while the furlough continues. Based in Somerset, the bank has offices in Westmoreland, Fayette, Cambria and Bedford counties and stretches into Maryland

“Like everybody else, we’re hoping that it ends in the not-too-distant future,” Cook said. “But, we figured that that was good emergency money for anybody that needed to make sure they weren’t going to miss a mortgage payment, or a car payment or feed their families.”

Furloughed workers with children might also be able to get help from schools.

State College Area School District business officer Randy Brown said the district got a couple of inquiries about free and reduced lunches. The district decided to send a message reminding families of the program. Furloughed families might qualify.

“Because of the large number that could potentially be affected at this time, we decided that we thought it would be appropriate to reach out,” Brown said.

Brown said families can also apply for scholarships for the district’s before and after-school program.

 

Food stamp funding available for February but beyond that, is unknown

From pennlive.com

The 1.8 million Pennsylvanians who depend on food stamps to put food on the table for themselves and their families will see benefits for February loaded on their electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards on Friday and be available for use on Saturday.

But the state Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller said that will be the only benefit payment Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients will receive for February and should be prepared to make it last in the event the partial federal government shutdown continues.

Payments beyond February will be determined based on the availability of United States Department of Agriculture funds, according to the state Department of Human Services. The department awaits information from the federal government USDA on plans for March benefits.

“SNAP is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program. Without it, 1.8 million Pennsylvanians would have greater trouble affording food for themselves and their families,” Miller said in a news release. “This early payment allows us to get SNAP recipients their benefits for February, but they will have to make this payment last for an undefined period as the shutdown continues.”

The early payment follows a Jan. 8 announcement from the notifying states that the partial federal government shutdown would not affect benefits for February, but benefits must be issued by Jan. 20. The department worked with its vendors to ensure the benefits were loaded on recipients EBT cards, Miller said.

Read more.

Inauguration 2019: 13 ways it will differ from Gov. Tom Wolf’s first one

From pennlive.com

Gov. Tom Wolf takes the oath of office for the second time on Tuesday outside the Capitol East Wing in Harrisburg, launching the second term of his administration.

The location is the same. The oath is the same. The man taking that oath is the same albeit he is four years older (70) and becoming the oldest person to ever be sworn in as the commonwealth’s governor. 

There are other similarities to the hoopla surrounding this historic event for Pennsylvania to inaugural festivities held four years ago when this Mount Wolf, York County, native was first sworn in as Pennsylvania’s 47th governor. 

For example, the ceremony is being followed by an open house at the Governor’s Residence, which will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday . The price of the tickets for the evening celebration is the same — $50 for students and those over 65 years of age and $100 for all others. And the cost of the inauguration celebration is covered entirely by private donations.  

But here are 13 differences:  read more.

PA Gov. Tom Wolf, at halftime of an 8-year tenure, says he’ll focus on achievable goals

From pennlive.com

If you are hoping for sweeping policy changes or some kind of political adventure as Thomas Westerman Wolf begins his second term as Pennsylvania’s 47th governor Tuesday, you may be disappointed.

Pennsylvania’s manager governor, by most accounts and his own words, isn’t consumed right now with crafting a legacy for the history books, or positioning himself on the hot list of 2020 Democratic Party VP picks.

Rather, it appears he will be content to play a public policy version of what baseball writers call “small ball,” taking incremental steps down policy paths that he believes, in toto, will leave Pennsylvania in a better place than he found it and largely eschewing sweeping course corrections that make for sexier headlines.

For Wolf, 70, this is the sum of lessons learned over the past four years, continued GOP control of both chambers of the General Assembly and a quiet personality that, we think we know by now, prefers consensus-building and results to standing on principle and super-stardom.

Read more.

When will the minimum wage in PA change? It’s been stuck at $7.25 since 2009

From York Daily Record

Since 2009, 29 states have raised the federal minimum wage. 

Pennsylvania is not one of them.

Since 2009, the minimum wage in Pennsylvania has remained the same at a whopping $7.25 an hour. Twenty states will see additional increases beginning this month, including New Jersey, Ohio and Delaware, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Read more.

PA Workforce Development Association