The Community College of Allegheny County is one local organization that plans to apply for a new state grant to fund apprenticeship programs.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s administration announced the creation of the program Wednesday, with the intention of developing specialized training to, “close skill gaps in the workplace, while also providing rewarding career pathways for students and adults.”
The Department of Community and Economic Development is accepting grant proposals from apprenticeship sponsors including employers, workforce development boards, labor organizations, career tech schools and community colleges.
CCAC President Quintin Bullock said CCAC is competing for a portion of the $2.3 million that has been set aside to start the program. Currently, CCAC partners with seven local trade unions, giving more than 1,700 students on-the-job training. Bullock said, though, the college does not offer welding apprenticeships.
Welding courses at the college’s West Hills Center are in high demand. Starting in the spring semester, the center is offering Sunday and midnight courses to keep up with student requests.
Bullock said the college could use grant funding to partner with a welding employer and create an apprenticeship. The college is also interested in developing an information technology apprenticeship with a focus on cyber security.
“What this will do, it helps to align the students that are going through the training program with an employer with hopes that upon completing their studies that the employers will see them as their potential hire going to work in their business,” he said. “Which is a win, win.”
Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Eileen Cipriani said growing apprenticeship programs is a way to develop a pool of talent for employers.
“These apprenticeship grants foster the development of new apprenticeship training programs and redirect state dollars to meet the most urgent regional employment needs,” Cipriani said.
Grant money can be used for in-house instructor salaries, costs of books and training materials or contracted professional services.
The nearly $2.3 million that will be used to start the program is money that the state said has been “clawed back” from businesses and organizations that received state money, but failed to meet state requirements set by a contract, including job creation goals.
“Whether it be based on job numbers, capital investment figures, or additional requirements outlined in the program guidelines,” according to a release from the Department of Community and Economic Development.
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s 2014 audit report found that only 56 percent of the businesses awarded assistance with the goal of creating jobs actually created or retained all of the jobs promised.
“I am pleased to see that my recommendations to recoup the taxpayer investment when a business fails to meet its contractual obligations are now being used to benefit job-seekers and the companies who employ them,” Depasquale said in a release.
According to the DCED, grants will be issued on an ongoing basis as long as funds are available.