Democratic candidate for Governor Rep. Allyson Schwartz announced her plan to build up a 21st century workforce for Pennsylvania, with a focus on a new apprenticeship program.
“Tom Corbett has turned his back on Pennsylvania’s working families for too long. His failed leadership has left our unemployment rate worse than the national average, and today, we’re ranked in the bottom 10 states for job growth. That is unacceptable,” said Schwartz. “I will bring proven leadership and the kind of vision that’s necessary to reinvigorate Pennsylvania’s workforce and bring good-paying jobs back to Pennsylvania.”
This claim isn’t entirely true, according to the Sun Gazette. “The latest figures place the jobless rate at 6.4 percent in January and included a downward revision of the unemployment rate for December at 6.8 percent. The nation’s jobless rate was 6.7 percent for January, so the objective take has to be that the state has a healthier employment picture than much of the nation.”
And the Corbett campaign jumped at the chance to point out the inaccuracy in her statement.
“With all of the votes Congresswoman Schwartz has been missing in Washington, you would think she would at least have enough free time to recognize that Pennsylvania’s jobless rate is actually lower than the national average,” Corbett campaign Communications Director Chris Pack said.
Schwartz’s plan would give private companies tax incentives to hire, train and retain almost 10,000 new employees. She would also include support training for industry partnerships, reinvesting in community colleges and vocational training, and consolidating programs to assure access, streamline the various programs to assure relevance and effectiveness, and set expectations to include minorities and women.
Her plan consists of four parts:
Launch Apprenticeship PA
Re-launch industry partnerships
Reinvest in community colleges and career and technical education
Consolidate job training programs
In the plan, Schwartz called apprenticeships “the Cadillacs of job training for high-skill occupations.” While Pennsylvania has had an Apprenticeship and Training Council since 1961, Schwartz believes the economy should invest more in career-supporting training programs. She pointed out that under Governor Tom Corbett, the number of apprenticeships has declined from 14,000 to fewer than 10,900.
The program Apprenticeship PA means to significantly expand the amount of apprenticeship programs available, in both number and type. The program will do so by reaching out to more employers and giving them the technical assistance needed to provide training for more jobs.
The plan aims to benefit all parties involved. Generally, workers who complete apprenticeship programs earn an average of $8,000 more annually than those who don’t. For businesses, apprenticeships reduce labor turnover and increase productivity.
For Pennsylvania, Schwartz wants to create 10,000 new apprenticeships in her first term, not only lifting citizens into the middle class, but also earning the state a net gain of nearly $35,000 for each apprenticeship graduate.
“We must bridge the gap between those who want jobs and the employers who need skilled workers. By making real investments in creating partnerships between government, industry, and our universities, we can allow employers to take advantage of the greatest asset Pennsylvania has – our workers,” Schwartz added.
Along with former DEP Secretary McGinty, Schwartz faces former Auditor General Jack Wagner, State Treasurer Rob McCord and former Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf in the gubernatorial race.