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As the Legislature deliberates the budget during the coming weeks, deciding which programs get funded and at what level, it is important for legislators to be mindful of important programs that will aid the growth of the Commonwealth’s economy – most specifically Industry Partnerships.
This initiative is a public-private partnership utilizing funds from the state budget and also from private sector employers. It is successful because industry employers are assessing their own needs and ensuring that training gives workers skills that achieve crucial business goals.
Unlike some traditional training programs that lack strong ties to industry, employer-led training often accelerates job creation because workers acquire exactly the skills businesses need to expand. Today, examples include precision machinist and industrial maintenance skills needed at manufacturers and welding skills needed by gas drillers.
Last year, the Industry Partnership Program legislation (SB 552) that I had the honor of sponsoring was signed into law by Governor Corbett, making Pennsylvania a national leader in workforce development and job training. However, this important program has been subjected to cuts which directly affect training activities.
I have introduced legislation, SB 1460, that would generate additional private funds by creating a tax credit program for businesses that make additional investments in the program. This legislation would permit businesses to claim a tax credit of 75 percent of their contribution to Industry Partnerships.
There has never been a better time to support programs that lead to family-sustaining jobs for our most critical economic resource – our workforce. We need to create innovative ways to support programs that boost our economy.
Governor Corbett’s budget address this year focused on workforce development. He recognizes the need to match employers with qualified workers to fulfill their business needs. He wants programs that provide employee-driven training and are performance-based. Industry Partnerships have strong business support and a proven track record and can meet the Governor’s requirements.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, more than 6,300 businesses have taken part in more than 80 partnerships throughout the state. More than 70,000 workers have received training as a result of the program. Workers who received training through the Industry Partnerships program received an average 6.62 percent increase in wages in the first year following training.
Industry Partnerships provides the job training necessary for our workforce to fulfill the jobs of today. We must come together and continue to support program that are vital to our economic growth. Now is the time to make an investment in our future and the future of Pennsylvania’s workforce.