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Category Archives: News

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

The Link to roll out for job-seekers

From the (Williamsport) Sun-Gazette

A career center on wheels is about to launch for those seeking jobs.

The Link, as it is called, will be staffed to help businesses find talent and job-seekers find opportunities right for them, said Erica Mulberger, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corp.

The mobile career center, which is operated by Central Susquehanna Opportunities Inc., will provide services to Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties. It will be in Lycoming County this month, according to Mulberger.

Outfitted with seven computers, internet access, a printer and a presentation screen, the handicapped-accessible center will travel to various communities, expanding the reach of Pennsylvania CareerLink, she said.

Staff can assist with career guidance, or assistance searching and applying for work. They also can work with people looking to fine-tune resumes or learn how to write a cover letter, and work readiness and other kinds of training and workshops can be provided.

This goes beyond the CareerLink walls and accesses communities that job-counseling professionals often have a hard time reaching, according to Mulberger.

Recurring stops are scheduled as well as visits at recruitment seminars, job fairs and other community happenings.

The Link was made possible through a state Department of Labor Community Based Partnership grant.

The opioid crisis is creating a fresh hell for America’s employers

From LinkedIn

Clyde McClellan used to require a drug test before people could work at his Ohio pottery company, which produces 2,500 hand-cast coffee mugs a day for Starbucks and others.

Now, he skips the tests and finds it more efficient to flat-out ask applicants: “What are you on?”

At Homer Laughlin China, a company that makes a colorful line of dishware known as Fiesta and employs 850 at a sprawling complex in Newell, W.V., up to half of applicants either fail or refuse to take mandatory pre-employment drug screens, said company president Liz McIlvain.

“The drugs are so cheap and they’re so easily accessible,” McIlvain, a fourth-generation owner of the company, said. “We have a horrible problem here.”

The misuse of prescription painkillers, heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl is, by now, painfully well known. The U.S. tops the world in drug deaths; in 2015, more people died from overdoses — with two thirds involving an opioid — than from car accidents or gun violence.

The epidemic is also having a devastating effect on companies — large and small — and their ability to stay competitive. Managers and owners across the country are at a loss in how to deal with addicted workers and potential workers, calling the issue one of the biggest problems they face. Applicants are increasingly unwilling or unable to pass drug tests; then there are those who pass only to show signs of addiction once employed. Even more confounding: how to respond to employees who have a legitimate prescription for opioids but whose performance slips. “That is really the battlefield […]

Chesco businesses: County is great, except for the traffic


Doing business in Chester County couldn’t be better, except for the traffic, according to a new survey of businesses there.

Overwhelmingly, the survey found, business owners like Chester County: They’re optimistic about their prospects and believe the business climate is improving.They like the quality of life, the natural environment, the quality of the education system, and the safety of the community and local events. They believe, for the most part, that they can attract the talent they need, and that there is sufficient availability of land, capital, raw materials, and customers.

The downside? Businesses responding said they were only slightly bothered by a handful of negatives: the lack of public transportation, congestion on the highways, the permitting process, the cost of land, housing affordability, and local tax policies and structures.

Taking the “pulse” of Chester County businesses was the aim of the survey with the same name, whose results were released Tuesday. The survey was conducted in March and April by the Chester County Board of Commissioners and the Chester County Economic Development Council in cooperation with the county’s 10 chambers of commerce.

About 330 businesses participated in the online survey by email. Most of them, 85 percent, were small companies employing fewer than 20 people, and 55 percent were sole proprietors with fewer than five employees. One in five businesses fell in the professional-services category.

The idea behind the survey was to keep tabs on the county’s business environment to learn about the challenges facing local companies, and to identify opportunities for them.

 Read more.

Education savings accounts widen Pa. school choice options for more students, senator says


Education savings accounts are about opportunity. They are giving more students a chance at an education that best meets their needs instead of forcing them to attend a low-achieving public school.

That’s how Sen. John DiSanto, R-Dauphin County, explained legislation he will be introducing in September to bring to Pennsylvania this latest version of a state-funded school choice program beginning to pop up in other states around the nation.

His proposal would make flexible state-funded accounts available to students who live in attendance areas of the state’s lowest performing schools. The money in those accounts could be used for a variety of pre-approved education-related expenses including attending a private or parochial school. More details about the proposal are below.

“I believe that all of our children, no matter their background, have potential to accomplish great things. Increased educational options are a significant step forward in helping many children receive a better education to achieve their dreams,” he said at a Tuesday news conference in a crowded room of supporters at the Joshua Learning Center of Harrisburg.

Read more.

New mobile career center ‘The Link’ to service central Pennsylvania

Excerpted from the Lewistown Sentinel

The Central PA Workforce Development Corporation has launched “The Link” (an mobile career services vehicle) to extend PA CareerLink services into communities where there is no brick and mortar PA CareerLink office. The CPWDC area includes nine counties, including Mifflin and Snyder, covering more than 5,370 square miles and six physical PA CareerLink offices, which makes it challenging for some residents and business owners to go to PA CareerLink for services. 

“This new vehicle allows us to take the professional career services available at PA CareerLink beyond the walls of the Central PA CareerLink offices to serve communities and individuals we sometimes have a hard time reaching,” said Erica Mulberger, executive director of CPWDC. “CPWDC recognizes that traveling to one of the six offices in the region can be a challenge for individuals living in rural communities, and The Link is our way of reducing that barrier to help more individuals find employment. I encourage companies searching for new talent and individuals looking for employment to check out what The Link has to offer.”

Companies, agencies, community partners and more can request to have The Link come to their location. CPWDC will also advertise where The Link will be on their Facebook page, @TheLinkMCC. They are currently working on a preliminary schedule that will be adjusted based on demand.

Mulberger said she hopes with this new outreach tool, that more Central PA residents will benefit from PA CareerLink services, attain employment, and help grow the regional economy.

“By bringing PA CareerLink services into the communities and going places […]

Wolf puts $188.3 million in discretionary spending in budget reserve

From CapitolWire

Gov. Tom Wolf has put $188.3 million in state discretionary spending in reserve as a budget stalemate continues with no sign of near-term resolution.

The action involves 68 appropriations spread among a dozen state agencies and offices. About 70 percent of those appropriations have been put entirely in reserve. This type of spending often falls under the umbrella of “legislative add-ons,” items added during the state budget negotiations that are apart from an agency’s formal budget request or mandated spending.

The items held in reserve include $8.6 million for trauma centers, $9 million for local municipal emergency relief, $600,000 to support regional cancer institutes and $100,000 to support diabetes programs.

Wolf spokesman J.J. Abbott described the move Wednesday as a temporary situation that usually occurs just after a state budget is enacted.

“Moving these funds into reserves is a standard post-budget process to manage funding, particularly discretionary grants that go to specific organizations or programs,” he said.

Yet the action comes with work on the nearly $32 billion budget for fiscal 2017-18 only half-finished.

Nearly one month after the budget was enacted July 10, the governor and Legislature have yet to agree on a revenue package to plug a $1.5 billion deficit in fiscal 2015-16 and an estimated $750 million deficit this year.

Abbott emphasized these are not spending cuts.

“No decisions have been made relative to programs that could be impacted if there is a failure to complete the budget process,” said Abbott. “The governor remains eager to fund these programs, which were supported by bi-partisan majorities in the General […]

Education savings accounts are an idea whose time has come


When it comes to education, Pennsylvanians aren’t getting their money’s worth.

Per-student funding in Pennsylvania is the 9th highest in the country, about $3,500 higher than the national average, according to a recent study. Yet in many parts of the state, including in our biggest city, academic achievement disparities remain

This trend is particularly troubling for minority families. Today, approximately 10 percent of all K-12 students in the state are Hispanic and their number is projected to grow.

But according to a report by the RAND Corporation, the share of white students achieving proficiency or above exceeds the share of African-American and Latino students by as much as 38 percent.

According to RAND, African American and Latino students in Pennsylvania are behind their white counterparts by the equivalent of about three years of learning.

The commonwealth is not alone when it comes to this lackluster return on investment.

Read more.

Robotics institute set to anchor Pittsburgh’s mammoth Almono development

From (Pittsburgh)

Carnegie Mellon University’s Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute will be the first anchor tenant to set up shop in a former Hazelwood steel mill, officials said Monday.

Donald Smith, president of the Regional Industrial Development Corp., said the institute would occupy about two-thirds of the first of three buildings planned for Mill 19, a former LTV rolling mill.

Gov. Tom Wolf visited the site Monday to examine the mill property owned by the Almono partnership, which includes the Heinz Endowments and Richard King Mellon and Claude Worthington Benedum foundations. RIDC has managed the site.

“From the commonwealth’s point of view it’s a way to renovate, rehabilitate an area that’s been not under utilized, (but) unutilized for the last ‘how-many’ years,” Wolf said. “Aesthetically, think of what it means for the appearances in this area, but then it also reconnects the area of Hazelwood. I think what they’re trying to do here is an audacious thing: to try to re-establish that connection in a way that pays tribute to Pittsburgh’s current incarnation as a high-tech capital.”

Almono is planning a $120 million development including light manufacturing, about 2,000 apartments, shops and restaurants on the 178-acre property bordering the Monongahela River.

Plans call for the removal of Mill 19’s siding and construction of three separate buildings under the 1,500-foot-long building’s steel skeleton.

Solar panels on the western side of the roof should be enough to completely power the first two buildings.

Gary Fedder, CEO of the robotics institute, said ARM and Almono are finalizing lease details.

Unemployment in northeastern PA is a mixed bag, expert says

From the Hazleton Standard-Speaker

Unemployment numbers are down but the figures are a little deceiving, an expert says.

Nevertheless, record high numbers in two job sectors indicate the economy in Northeast Pennsylvania is improving, said Steven Zellers, industry and business analyst at the Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, state Department of Labor and Industry.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Metropolitan Statistical Area’s (MSA) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell three-tenths of a percentage point to 5.6 percent in June, after being up one-tenth each in May and April. The rate dropped for the four prior months, including a decline of 0.6 percent in January.

Zellers said the job sectors of transportation, warehousing and utilities, and leisure and hospitality were at record highs.

But there is a different indicator in jobs numbers, he said.

“One thousand people came off the unemployment rolls, but only 100 found jobs, while 900 left the workforce,” Zellers said. “But over the year, the economy has improved.”

Over the month, both mining, logging and construction, and leisure and hospitality experienced seasonal increases. Both job sectors also grew over the past year.

Trade, transportation and utilities, and education and health services have experienced strong growth since June 2016, up by 1,300 jobs and 1,000 jobs, respectively, Zellers said.

Read more.

The teen unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in years — why not a good thing

From Market Watch

On first glance, things are looking good for America’s teen workers. But a deeper dive shows that the country’s economic recovery could be leaving this group behind.

The unemployment rate for people between the ages of 16 and 19 dropped to 13.2% in July, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s down from 13.3% in June and 15.6% a year ago. In July, the overall unemployment rate was 4.3%, a 16-year low.

With the labor market continuing to make steady improvements, talk has cropped up about the economy approaching full employment — but that’s far from the case for teenagers. While the unemployment rate has lowered steadily for this age group, that doesn’t mean that more teenagers are getting jobs. Rather, experts say it is a sign of young people dropping out of the workforce.

The labor-force participation rate, a measure of the share of people with jobs or looking for employment, was 35% for teens in July. Comparatively in 2000, when the U.S. economy last came close to achieving full employment, the labor-force participation rate for this group was nearly 53%. “This has been a slow jobs recovery, and teens are always at the bottom of the labor market queue,” said Paul Harrington, an education professor and director of the Center for Labor Markets and Policy at Drexel University.

So what are these young people doing if they aren’t working? First, the good news: Many of them are going to school. Many high-school students are turning to summer classes and community […]

PA Workforce Development Association