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Category Archives: News

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

He’s tasked with seeding thousands of new jobs in Pittsburgh — whether Amazon comes or not

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


OCT 12, 2018

As Amazon’s decision on where to build its second headquarters nears, Earl Buford is often up at night with a notepad.

Mr. Buford, a new arrival to Pittsburgh, is still settling into his home in the Strip District. Yet as the new CEO of Partner4Work, the workforce development agency for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, he is confronting the potential for 50,000 new jobs with salaries of $100,000 that the Seattle e-commerce giant has promised to inject into its chosen site.

Just last year, he was mulling similar workforce questions surrounding a high-profile, controversial development.

He was part of the Milwaukee team that lured Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn to build a $10 billion factory promising as many as 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin, plus Foxconn’s North American headquarters in Milwaukee. President Donald J. Trump praised the move as a key victory in growing American manufacturing jobs, while critics decried the $3 billion state subsidy as corporate welfare.

So what does 50,000 more high-income jobs — or 13,000 more middle-class jobs — do to a region?

Read more 

Enrollment at state-owned universities hits new low

By Teresa Bonner | | Posted on October 17, 2018 6:23 AM | Updated October 17, 2018 6:24 AM

Enrollment in Pennsylvania’s 14 state universities dropped this fall for the eighth consecutive year, and fell below 100,000 —  to 98,094 — for the first time since 2001.

Some universities are seeing more precipitous decreases than others. Two saw small increases in enrollment, while one saw the number of students enrolled drop by 38 percent.

It’s not a problem contained to the state system. 

High school graduation rates are flat with a precipitous decline expected after 2025. The percentage of the system’s budget that comes from the state budget is at a low level, which in turn drives up tuition rates. On top of that, with all of Pennsylvania’s public and private colleges and universities, there’s more capacity than students, which makes for cut-throat competition.

To address the problems, a Senate-commissioned study by the Rand Corp. recommended some radical changes to the State System. Among them: merging its weaker universities with stronger ones, putting the system under Penn State, Pitt or Temple’s management, or even making the system universities part of those state-related universities.

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Wolf to sign law delaying Keystones, changing graduation requirements


A bill heading to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk this week will delay the Keystone Exam graduation requirements — again — but promises to give students more options for showing that they are prepared to graduate from high school.

The Pennsylvania Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that does not eliminate graduation requirements but rather provides alternatives to the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement.

The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments intended to assess proficiency in Algebra, literature and biology.

In order to graduate under the new law, students must complete course requirements — established by their local schools — in addition to any of the following:

  • Show proficiency on the SAT, PSAT or ACT;
  • Pass an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exam;
  • Complete a dual-enrollment program;
  • Complete an apprenticeship program;
  • Get accepted to an accredited four-year nonprofit institution of higher education;
  • Complete a service-learning project;
  • Secure a letter of full-time employment;
  • Achieve an acceptable score on a WorkKeys assessment, an exam administered by the ACT which assesses workplace skills including math, reading comprehension and applied technology.

A law signed by Wolf in 2016 delayed the use of Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement until the 2019-20 school year. Senate Bill 1095 delays the use of Keystone Exams until the 2021-22 school year. The tests have been administered each year in order to satisfy federal guidelines that require schools to submit data on students’ academic achievement.

Read more.

Construction union using video games to interest kids in apprenticeships

From TribLive

  | Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, 10:03 a.m.

Pittsburgh’s low unemployment rate and pending retirements have prompted a local construction union to come up with a creative way to recruit candidates for the union’s apprenticeship program.

International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66 partnered with Simcoach Games, based in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, to develop free game apps that simulate operating heavy machinery as tools for educating and recruiting school kids.

The gaming company developed “Dig in: An Excavator Game” and “Dig In: A Dozer Game” for the union. They introduced their first game, “Hook: A Tower Crane Game” a little over a year ago.

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Looming regional labor shortages must be addressed, researcher says

From Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

By Jennifer Learn-Andes –

If predictions hold true, there won’t be enough workers in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties to fill more than 10,000 jobs in a myriad of sectors over the next decade, researcher Teri Ooms told business leaders Wednesday.

While job growth is a contributor, most of the vacancies are expected to stem from older employees leaving the workforce, said Ooms, executive director of The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development at Wilkes University.

The two-county population declined 1.4 percent from 2010 to 2016, while the annual unemployment rate in both averaged 4 percent from 2008 to 2017, according to her presentation at Wilkes-Barre’s Think Center in downtown Wilkes-Barre, which was held in partnership with the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber.

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What Will Be Important in the Learn and Work Ecosystem in 2030? How Do We Prepare?

This year’s kindergarteners will graduate from high school in 2030. It’s clear that they will need to prepare for a rapidly changing work-and-learn future, as will their parents and the nation’s entire adult population. What isn’t as clear yet: What will be important in 2030, and what actions do we put into place now to prepare for the future?

To help tackle these questions, Lumina Foundation recently sponsored the second of two convenings on AI Future Skills with the Institute for the Future (IFTF), an organization that has been forecasting ten-year futures for 50 years. IFTF has a well-tested foresight process, which we followed. We convened a diverse group of thinkers and practitioners and asked them to think about what will go away in 10 years, then think about what will be most important. We ran four scenarios, painting four different pictures of what 2030 might look like based on research about the drivers of change. With each scenario, the group considered what actions would be needed should that scenario prevail.

This October, IFTF will issue a report on the convenings, which included experts in artificial intelligence, education, economics and workforce. The report will summarize the experts’ views on what skills will likely be needed to navigate the learn-and-work ecosystem over the next 10 to 15 years, and their suggested steps for better serving the nation’s future needs.

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Coordinating workforce development across stakeholders: An interview with ManpowerGroup CEO Jonas Prising

By Wan-Lae Cheng, Thomas Dohrmann, and Jonathan Law

Finding mutually beneficial areas for collaboration may be closer than you think. The key? Shifting from “just-in-time” hiring to retraining.

Structural changes in the labor market, including an aging population and the rise of the gig economy, have created a persistent skills gap for employers. This mismatch in talent has become a top challenge for businesses, educators, and policy makers. Businesses understand that a predictable supply of workers is critical to their growth and viability. Policy makers are seeing that persistent underemployment and a lack of opportunity deepen economic inequality. And educational institutions are experiencing increasing demands from organizations to tailor their offerings to the demands of industry. As a result, all are motivated to create a 21st-century workforce that can serve both business and society. The major question is how these groups can work together to address common goals.

McKinsey recently sat down with Jonas Prising, chairman and CEO of ManpowerGroup, to discuss changes in the labor market and how organizations should adapt. Prising shared his thoughts on identifying skills adjacencies and opportunities for upskilling, partnering with educational institutions, and hiring based on an employee’s ability to learn as opposed to current skill sets.

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Governor: $17.5 million in grants will help workers learn new skills, get in-demand jobs

Text of Sept. 26 press release.

State and local partnerships will focus on training dislocated workers for new, family sustaining jobs in the commonwealth’s growing industries.

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today continued his commitment to providing individuals with the training they need to succeed in the 21st century economy by announcing more than $17.5 million in federal grant funding to boost job skills and provide other support services for dislocated workers in Pennsylvania.

“I believe strongly in the importance of investing in our workers’ success by helping them increase their skills and get the good jobs they need to sustain their families,” said Governor Wolf. “The result of these targeted investments is truly a win-win for everyone, as it also provides businesses with the skilled workforce they need to thrive in our global economy.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) was awarded an $8 million Trade and Economic Transition Dislocated Worker Grant that will primarily be used to help individuals who have lost their jobs in the retail and hospitality industries. The grant will fund the full costs of skills training and associated needs, like child care, to help dislocated workers get in-demand jobs.

“We plan to serve individuals holistically, giving them the best opportunity to achieve higher skill levels and earn a good, family-sustaining wage,” said L&I Secretary Jerry Oleksiak. “As part of this grant, L&I is going to train dislocated workers to acquire the skills that will transcend multiple industries, rather than just focusing on one specific skillset or sector. This approach will provide […]

Older workers still punch clock for many different reasons

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PITTSBURGH (AP, Sept. 22) — At 86 years old, Bill Priatko jump-starts every workday with a vigorous three-mile walk and 155 Marine-style pushups, getting energized for another five-hour shift working the soda fountain at Kennywood Park.

“I don’t call it work,” he said. “Really, it’s like a hobby. I come over here every morning, five days a week, Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Just enough for me to enjoy it. And I can’t wait to see the kids and work with them.”

He starts the shift with a ritual that Rodgers and Hammerstein might appreciate and that his young co-workers seem to enjoy. “I sing this little ditty to them: ‘Oh, what a beautiful morning. Oh, what a beautiful day. I’ve got a wonderful feeling. Everything’s going our way.’”

And they all go “Yeah!”

For Priatko, a former Pittsburgh Steeler, the job at the West Mifflin amusement park is a retirement gig. He is part of a fast-growing segment of workers who remain in the workplace well past the traditional retirement age.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for those ages 55 and over was 3.1 percent as of July. By comparison, the rate for that segment of workers hit a record high 7.2 percent in December 2009 during the Great Recession.

In July, the unemployment rate for older workers was actually lower than 3.9 percent overall rate for the entire U.S. population.

There are different factors at work in that trend.

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PA’s unemployment rate is lowest in 18 years

 From the Office of the Governor

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) has released its employment situation report for August 2018. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate declined one-tenth of a percentage point from July to 4.1 percent, the lowest rate since July 2000. Over the year, the Pennsylvania unemployment rate declined by seven-tenths of a percentage point.

     The estimated number of Pennsylvania residents working or looking for work, known as the civilian labor force, was up 9,000 over the month as the unemployment count declined by 5,000 while employment increased by 14,000. This was the third consecutive month that saw employment rise and unemployment fall. Over the year, the civilian labor force was down 38,000 with the decrease attributable to unemployment which was down 45,000 from last August while employment was up 7,000.

     The estimated number of jobs in Pennsylvania, referred to as total nonfarm jobs, was the second highest nonfarm job level on record, down 4,900 to 6,018,500 in August. Highlights from this month’s jobs report include:

     * Total nonfarm jobs in Pennsylvania were up 1.1 percent from August 2017

     * Jobs increased in three of the 11 industry supersectors over the month

     * Education & health services jobs rose to a record high

     Over the year, jobs increased in eight supersectors in the commonwealth with education & health services showing the largest gain. Nationally, jobs were up 1.6 percent during this timeframe.

     Additional information is available on the L&I website at or by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

     Note: The above data are seasonally adjusted. Seasonally adjusted data provide the most […]

PA Workforce Development Association