Gov. Josh Shapiro signed an executive order on Monday, creating the Commonwealth Workforce Transformation Program. The CWTP is a first-in-the-nation job training program that provides workforce development grants to ensure companies, contractors, unions, and others who are working to build Pennsylvania’s infrastructure have the skilled workforce they need.
The program allows organizations doing infrastructure work funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) or the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to receive up to $40,000 for each new worker they train.
Under the CWTP, the Commonwealth will reserve at least 3 percent of all funding it receives from the IIJA and IRA to fund workforce development and on-the-job training, meaning that as much as $400 million could be used for workforce training in Pennsylvania over the next five years. This model initiative will be the largest infusion in funding for workforce training in Pennsylvania history and could support as many as 10,000 new jobs.
“From the beginning of my Administration, I’ve been aggressive on creating real opportunity, breaking down barriers, and increasing opportunities for Pennsylvanians in the workforce, sending a clear message to our skilled workers that we value what they bring to the table,” said Shapiro.
“Thanks to President Biden’s leadership, we have a historic opportunity to build infrastructure that will connect our communities, spur economic development, and create opportunity for generations to come – but we need the workforce to do that work.
“The Commonwealth Workforce Transformation Program will help train the next generation of skilled workers in Pennsylvania and break down barriers that shut too many workers out of real opportunity. We’re going to build Pennsylvania’s infrastructure with the best, most highly-trained workforce in the country – and this initiative will be a model for other states to follow.”
The CWTP will provide grants of up to $40,000 for each new employee hired and trained in Pennsylvania for projects in critical industries, and up to a maximum of $400,000 per contract or award under the IRA and IIJA. The grants reimburse employers for the cost of wages and similar compensation, payroll taxes, and/or training costs paid to or on behalf of new employees and can be used for pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship program costs, costs associated with establishing a training program, and costs incurred for the use of a training facility.
Employers may also be reimbursed for supportive services that help individuals facing systemic barriers to employment to be able to participate in training and employment, including but not limited to housing, child and dependent care, work-related tools and clothing, educational testing, transportation, and more.
The Executive Order instructs the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) to manage the CWTP, which will support companies, contractors, unions, and others who want to do critical work on the Commonwealth’s infrastructure but need to find experienced workers or train new workers to get the projects done quickly, safely, and effectively.
“As Governor Shapiro has said many times – we need to build a well-trained workforce that is responsive to the needs of business and prepared for the jobs of the future,” said Labor & Industry Secretary Nancy A. Walker.
“Pennsylvania is facing challenges of a historically tight labor market, fueled by historically low unemployment and record-high jobs. To overcome those challenges, we need to invest in the hard-working people of Pennsylvania. Our workforce is the key to Pennsylvania’s economy and we must find new and creative ways to reach Pennsylvanians who want to work – and that is exactly what the Commonwealth Workforce Transformation Program will do.”
Walker will appoint an Executive Director of the CWTP to administer the program.
“The possibility of up to $400 million over the next five years flowing across Pennsylvania to help grow our economy and create new opportunities for generations to come should be enough to put a smile on anybody’s face here,” said Rep. Summer Lee (D-12). “The building and maintaining infrastructure, developing and growing the innovation economy. Pittsburgh is where the action is.
“We need workforce programs that can turn generational disinvestment into generational wealth. For our low income, our black and brown community members. We need the kind of federal and state partnership that Governor Shapiro was of champion today to start righting the wrongs of the past and building out the middle class from the ground up.”
“I say to the young people out there, there are jobs, we need your talent, we need your work, and we’re going to get you involved in these training programs and this workforce development program and put you to work,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “Let’s keep moving forward.”