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Category Archives: News

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

Here are PA’s 20 largest employers, and the biggest employers in each county


Here is a list of the 20 largest employers in Pennsylvania, as well as the top 5 employers in each county. PennLive compiled the list from information released by Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor & Industry Center for Workforce Information & Analysis. The data is from the third quarter of 2017.

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Trump releases executive order calling for work requirements, elimination of workforce programs

From National Skills Coalition

Last (week), President Trump signed an Executive Order calling for new work requirements across a broad range of means-tested public assistance programs, and further calling for the consolidation or elimination of federal workforce development programs.

The order criticizes federal public assistance programs, suggesting that they “trap” individuals in poverty, and requires the Secretaries of the Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education to undertake a review process over the next 90 days to a) review all current regulations and guidance relating to waivers or exemptions to work requirements in programs under their jurisdiction; b) review all public assistance programs that do not require work as a condition of eligibility, and determine whether a work requirement could be imposed; and c) review all public assistance programs that do require work as a condition of eligibility and determine whether enforcement of those requirements is consistent with a set of “economic mobility” principles set forth in the order. Upon completion of the review, the agencies must submit recommendations to the Office of Management and Budget for regulatory and policy changes to programs that will strengthen work requirements; agencies must then take steps to implement those proposed changes within 90 days of submitting the recommendations.

The order also states that “the Federal Government” should review current federally funded workforce development programs and, where more than one agency administers a program or programs that are “similar in scope or population served,” those programs should be consolidated under the agency that is […]

GOP proposes stricter work requirements for food stamp recipients, a step toward a major overhaul of the social safety net

From the Washington Post

House Republicans took their first step (last) Thursday toward overhauling the federal safety net, pushing for new work requirements in the food-stamp program used by 42 million Americans.

The plan, introduced as part of the 2018 Farm Bill over objections of Democrats, would dramatically expand mandatory state workfare programs in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps.

Under the proposal, most adults between 18 and 59 will be required to work part-time or enroll in 20 hours a week of workforce training to receive assistance. The plan budgets $1 billion per year to fund the training program expansion.

Preliminary Congressional Budget Office estimates suggest the requirements would cut SNAP participation by as many as 1 million people over the next 10 years.

The bill, slated for markup in the House Agriculture Committee on April 18, launches the first major skirmish in Republicans’ push to overhaul welfare and nudge recipients closer to self-sufficiency through work.

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President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate and Appoint Personnel to Key Administration Posts

Issued on: April 11, 2018

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

John P. Pallasch of Kentucky, to be an Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training.  Mr. Pallasch most recently served as executive director of the Office of Employment and Training at the Kentucky Department of Labor, where he led teams providing employment services and unemployment insurance programs to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In his previous tenure at the U.S. Department of Labor, Mr. Pallasch served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health.  In this role, he supervised more than 330 staff and was responsible for a budget of more than $332 million. He received his BS in sociology and criminology from the Ohio State University, as well as a JD and certificate in alternative dispute resolution from Pepperdine University School of Law.

Paul Ryan won’t seek re-election


(US) House Speaker Paul Ryan is not seeking re-election and will retire from Congress after this year, his office announced today.

“This morning Speaker Ryan shared with his colleagues that this will be his last year as a member of the House,” Ryan aide Brendan Buck said in a statement. “He will serve out his full term, run through the tape, and then retire in January. After nearly twenty years in the House, the speaker is proud of all that has been accomplished and is ready to devote more of his time to being a husband and a father.”

According to two sources with direct knowledge, in calls this morning with his leadership team, Ryan made clear much of this decision was about spending time with his family, but also noted that he planned to leave after this Congress and didn’t think it was fair to his district or the GOP conference to run for re-election only to leave right after.

A source familiar told CNN that Ryan called House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy about his retirement before the news broke.

Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, has been in Congress since 1999 and became House speaker in 2015.

Some of Ryan’s close friends previously told CNN that he might leave office after the 2018 midterms. Ryan said in a January interview with CBS News that re-election was a decision he and his wife were planning to make together in late spring, and in March he denied […]

Agencies plan for possible FirstEnergy layoffs

SHIPPINGPORT — Several local agencies are teaming up with state officials to create a plan that would help displaced workers in the event of mass layoffs at FirstEnergy Corp. power plants.

In the last week, FirstEnergy announced plans to deactivate the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station within the next three years. Several days later, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy filed for bankruptcy protection for its power-generating assets, which includes the Bruce Mansfield Power Plant.

Local officials realize that even if mass layoffs do happen for the 1,200 workers at the two Shippingport plants, they could be far in the future. FirstEnergy could also sell its local assets and is exploring other legislative options to keep the plants open.

Regardless, a plan is being put in place by local agencies including Job Training for Beaver County and Pennsylvania CareerLink in the event of mass job losses.

Those agencies, working in tandem with a “rapid response” program administered by the state, are working to ensure help for any potential displaced workforce.

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Tuition-free community colleges, public universities proposed in PA


Today, American students are shouldering most of the cost to attend public universities and colleges.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has long lagged behind the rest of the country in spending on higher education. But  state legislators are now looking at ways to make college more affordable for students in the Keystone State.

As part of that effort, state Sen. Vince Hughes, D-Philadelphia, plans to introduce a bill would cover two years of tuition and fees for recent high school graduates attending one of the state’s 14 community colleges. It would also cover four years of tuition and fees at a state-owned university for students with a family income of $110,000 or less per year. Students whose family income is $48,000 or less would be eligible for assistance with costs associated with room and board.

The legislation would also provide grants to adult learners who are seeking additional credentials, including certification and college credit.

It would be administered by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency and cover “last dollar,” the remaining amount after all other federal, state, and institutional grants are awarded to a student.

Hughes says it’s the right thing for Pennsylvania to do as new jobs are requiring workers to have completed at least some college courses.

“The research indicates that by 2020 — less than a year and a half from now — 63 percent of all of the jobs that’ll be created will require some level of post-high school education,” Hughes said.

He said the commonwealth will not be ready for the 21st century until all Pennsylvanians can get the education […]

New proposal seeks to offer multiple graduation options

By Chris Comisac
Bureau Chief

HARRISBURG (April 4) – The seesaw that is public education policy could soon be sawing back to where it was, roughly, pre-Keystone Exams.

Yes, lawmakers postponed (twice) the effective date of a requirement that all students pass the Keystone Exams in Literature, Algebra I and Biology in order to graduate, but it’s still on the books (currently scheduled to become effective with the 2019-20 school year) unless state law is changed.

And that appears to be exactly what state Sen. Tom McGarrigle, R-Delaware, would like to do with legislation that he’ll soon introduce.

“With the delay in the Keystone Exam graduation requirement set to expire in the 2019-20 school year, schools are uncertain about how to plan programming,” writes McGarrigle in a co-sponsorship memo which he began circulating last month for his bill.

Calling the current requirements “inflexible and ill-conceived expectations,” he says his legislation won’t reinstate the Keystone Exam graduation requirement, but instead “in any school year in which proficiency on Keystone Exams is required for high school graduation, my bill will provide students with several alternative pathways to demonstrate postsecondary readiness.”

In essence, it makes the Keystone Exams mostly irrelevant, as it seeks to allow students to both meet local grade-based requirements and demonstrate competency through completion of one of several pathways: passing all three Keystone Exams; passing a variety of alternate assessments (such as a subject-specific advanced placement, international baccalaureate, or an armed services vocational aptitude test), gaining acceptance in a registered apprenticeship program after graduation, […]

Governor Wolf announces $3.5 million for 61 grants to enhance apprenticeships

Text of April 3 press release.

PAsmart initiative key to fostering new generations of skilled workers.

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today continued his commitment to providing workers with the training they need to get good, middle-class jobs by announcing $3.5 million in grants to support pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship programs across Pennsylvania.

“My PAsmart initiative is an innovative approach to building pathways that will offer greater prosperity for our workers and businesses,” said Governor Wolf. “Apprenticeships are incredibly important, as they connect the people who want to learn new career skills with the companies and industries that need highly trained employees. We propose to invest a total of $50 million in PAsmart, including $7 million to help double the number of registered apprentices in the commonwealth by 2025.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry awarded the grants through Local Workforce Development Boards (LWDBs) across Pennsylvania. The grants provide funding for pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship programs, and help sponsoring organizations build capacity to improve and expand their programs.

There were 28 grants totaling $2 million awarded to support pre-apprenticeship programs that are actively working with registered apprenticeship programs, or apprenticeship programs that are already registered in Pennsylvania.

A total of $1.5 million was awarded for 33 capacity building grants. These grants are designed to support businesses, industry associations, chambers of commerce, training providers, career and technical centers, and intermediaries interested in sponsoring registered apprenticeship programs.

Following is a list of grants awarded through LWDBs:

Berks County

IBEW Local 743 – $94,880 pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship grant

Bucks County

Choice Careers, LLC – […]

EBT scam hits state senator’s office


State Sen. Art Haywood (D-4) said he wants answers from a company who has used his office in an apparent EBT scam.

The alleged ruse involved a company contacting hundreds of residents in Haywood’s district saying that the senator was denying them access to their SNAP and other benefits.

“We were so outraged, so we immediately shared on social media and voicemail that we had not denied access to anyone’s EBT card nor do we have the power to do so,” Haywood said.

“Even if we did have the power, we wouldn’t do that. We need answers now about why it has happened, who is involved, and what can be done to ensure that this scam is stopped in its tracks. The proper law enforcement authorities will be engaged.”

Constituents reached out to Haywood’s local district office on March 16 demanding to know why access to their EBT benefits would be cut off.

The callers said that a message they received via mobile device indicated that the vendor was blocking access and that they were to call Haywood’s office, the senator said.

He said residents said that when an EBT user signed on to an app on a mobile device, there was a message stating that the state’s vendor, Conduent, could block users from benefits.

The callers were instructed to note their support for a free app, “Fresh EBT,” in a call to Haywood’s office.

“My office has informed DHS and law enforcement of this matter and an investigation has started and there must be a full accounting of what happened and how […]

PA Workforce Development Association