- To strengthen workforce development and close skills gaps highlighted amid the coronavirus pandemic, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is partnering with local employers. The state has awarded 28 PAsmart Next Generation Industry Partnership grants totaling almost $4.7 million, Wolf announced Jan. 11.
- The grants unite various employers in the same industries — construction, financial services, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, retail, technology and transportation — to create targeted job training programs for Pennsylvania workers to obtain the skills needed for competitive positions. The new grants are in addition to $6.5 million in PAsmart grants previously awarded to increase apprenticeship job training, per the announcement.
- "Employers need skilled workers now more than ever," Wolf said in a statement. His administration has invested $88 million through PAsmart since 2018, according to the announcement.
The pandemic has forced employers to re-imagine ways to upskill and reskill workers, according to industry experts.
During a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation event in October, Talent Forward, panelists discussed how a skill-based workforce will define employment. For example, creating data standards within the retail industry to support interoperability — the ability of different information technology systems to exchange data accurately — will become vital, Sean Murphy, senior manager of opportunity at Walmart.org, said. Interoperability enables skills to become transferable and will continue in importance for employee training, Murphy said. IBM, for example, had been working on creating an infrastructure to connect job seekers and individuals aiming to improve their skills with academic institutions with employers, Alex Kaplan, global leader of Blockchain and AI for Industry Credentials at IBM, said during the panel.
Like Pennsylvania, other states are deciding to work directly with employers to facilitate upskilling and training. For example, in January 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed legislation into law creating the TechCred and Individual Microcredential Assistance Program. Under the law, the state can reimburse employers that pay for employees to earn industry-recognized, technology-focused credentials.
As companies look toward future sustainability and implement transformation, they will need to embrace reinvention and prioritize workforce training needs, Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, said during Amazon Web Services' re:Invent 2020 in December.