Harrisburg, PA – Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jerry Oleksiak today announced two new registered apprenticeship programs to train Electrical Assembly Specialists and CNC Machinists for in-demand jobs in the manufacturing and machining industries in northwestern Pennsylvania. Expanding apprenticeships is part of Governor Tom Wolf's comprehensive plan to make Pennsylvania's workforce the strongest in the nation, and make investments in all levels of education.
"These apprenticeships continue to provide Pennsylvanians an advantage when entering the workforce," said Oleksiak. "Apprenticeships benefit not only the members of our workforce who are aiming to further their careers, but also enhance our businesses by training new generations of talented workers to hire."
Last year, Governor Wolf proposed and passed a nationally-leading workforce development initiative, PAsmart, that provided $30 million for apprenticeships, science and technology education, and other job training initiatives. This year, the governor secured an additional $10 million for career and technical education.
The governor also recently created the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center. The partnership between state government and private sector leaders will identify and address the barriers to work, skills gaps, and worker shortages in Pennsylvania.
L&I's Apprenticeship and Training Office (ATO) recently approved an Electrical Assembly Specialist apprenticeship, located in New Castle, Lawrence County.
The program sponsor, Berner Air Curtains Services, registered an individual, joint program with the department. For over 60 years, Berner has worked to save energy and create healthy and comfortable environments for its customers. Their state-of-the-art equipment and highly-skilled employees work to produce top notch and cost-effective air curtains. The program has two registered apprentices and Laurel Technical Institute will provide the supplemental technical instruction.
"We wanted to establish an apprenticeship program due to our difficulty in finding skilled labor for our open factory positions," said Caitlin Bobanick, Human Resources, Berner Air Curtains. "Not only did the apprenticeship program help us recruit candidates, but it also assisted several of our current employees to advance to higher positions within the company."
In Erie County, Machining Concepts recently registered an apprenticeship program for CNC Machinists with L&I. The related technical instruction for this individual, non-joint program will be provided by Erie Institute of Technology. Established in 1994, Machining Concepts is a precision CNC machining company that manufactures parts and components for the aerospace, medical, oil, and gas industries.
"Our business depends on qualified machinists to produce quality parts for our customers," said James Willats, President of Machining Concepts. "Since having our company-specific apprenticeship approved at the end of last year, we have registered five apprentices. The opportunity of an apprenticeship was one of the factors that has attracted qualified young individuals to join Machining Concepts and begin a career path in precision machining."
The Wolf Administration created the ATO in 2016. Since then, the office has registered 145 new program sponsors and 210 new apprenticeship programs or occupations, bringing the total number of registered apprentices to 16,682 statewide.
Apprenticeship programs approved by the ATO provide employer-driven training to create a more productive, highly-skilled workforce for employers and help reduce employee turnover. The program provides job seekers with increased skills, and a nationally recognized credential to support future career advancement and increased wages. Apprentices also earn a living-wage throughout their training.
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