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Labor & Industry Secretary Highlights Apprenticeship Program Preparing Pennsylvanians for Careers in Early Childhood Education


Philadelphia, PA – Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier today visited a Philadelphia child care center where early childhood education apprentices gain on-the-job experience through a program offered by the District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund and Arcadia University, one of 26 recent recipients of grants totaling more than $11 million recently announced through Governor Tom Wolf's PA Statewide Movement for Accountability, Readiness and Training (PAsmart) program for workforce development throughout the commonwealth.

"Apprenticeships remain an integral part of workforce development throughout the commonwealth," Secretary Berrier said. "In addition to strengthening our workforce, the District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund and Arcadia University have made an investment in our youngest learners by providing quality instructors through their apprenticeship program. The Department of Labor & Industry is proud of their work and supports them in current and future endeavors."

To address the shortage of qualified early childhood teachers across the commonwealth, Arcadia University developed its undergraduate PreK-4 Registered Apprenticeship Program in 2019. This program provides access to bachelor's degree PreK‐4 teacher preparation and certification for a diverse early childhood workforce, furthering opportunities for academic growth and financial stability. At the end of the program, students earn a bachelor's degree in PreK-4 and complete the requirements for PreK-4 Certification issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

An Arcadia University team, led by Dr. Foram A. Bhukhanwala, associate professor of education, will use the recently announced PAsmart funding of $632,258 to train 12 apprentices and implement new initiatives to recruit and enroll apprentices who are linguistically, ethnically, and culturally representative of the workforce -- especially women of color and individuals from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund is a Philadelphia-based labor management workforce development partnership focused on the healthcare and human services sectors and affiliated with the National Union of Hospital and Healthcare Employees.  Over four decades, the training fund has helped connect more than 100,000 Delaware Valley residents of all ages and incomes to career paths in healthcare, early childhood education and human services.

"As sponsor of Arcadia's apprenticeship efforts, the District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund supports the university's work and congratulates them on the recent grant award," said Teresa Collins, executive director of the District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund.

Established in 2016, L&I's Apprenticeship and Training Office (ATO) supports and expands registered apprenticeship programs statewide. As a part of Governor Wolf's PAsmart framework, the office provides outreach, education and technical support to current and prospective apprenticeship program sponsors and apprentices. The ATO aims to expand the apprenticeship model to non-traditional occupations and ensure apprenticeship opportunities are available to under-represented communities across the commonwealth. The ATO currently supports more than 17,000 active apprentices, nearly 5,000 new apprentices and more than 1,500 active occupation-specific apprenticeship programs around the commonwealth. 

The Wolf Administration has directly invested $28 million in Pennsylvania apprenticeship programs since 2018, focused on increasing academic training in computer sciences, science, technology, engineering, and math education to strengthen Pennsylvania's workforce. The latest round of grant funding supports apprenticeship programs with a specific focus on diverse talent pipelines and underserved populations, non-traditional occupations, and alignment with secondary and post-secondary educational institutions for occupations in agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, IT, education, human services, building trades and more. Governor Wolf's 2022-23 budget proposal includes an additional $7 million investment for apprenticeships.

L&I estimates that, on average, apprentices earn a starting wage of $70,000 per year after graduation and are on track to earn $300,000 more than other workers over their careers. Nearly nine out of 10 apprentices are employed after completing their apprenticeship. For every dollar spent on apprenticeships, employers get an average of $1.47 back in increased productivity.

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