There are expected to be 700,000 jobs requiring skills in STEM to open in Pennsylvania this year, but there aren’t enough workers with those skills to fill them. The PA Smart Program aims to fix that.
Allyson Knox, a senior director of education policy at Microsoft, says, “In the state of Pennsylvania today, there are 19,752 open coding jobs.” Knox says there just aren’t enough students graduating with skills in the areas of STEM to take advantage of those openings.
Knox says, “No matter where students go in the future, they’re going to need these baseline skills in computer science.”
Gene Barr was one of the members of Pennsylvania’s Middle Class Task Force. They traveled the state speaking to employers. Barr says, “We need to take advantage of this. To make sure that we bring the skills to the people and the people to the skills, so they can continue to get those jobs.”
After traveling, Barr says, “The number one thing that came through was to make sure that we address our workforce development efforts in this Commonwealth.” Which is why they helped launch the PA Smart initiative, investing $30 million in workforce development; $20 million going toward STEM and computer science education and $10 million to job training and apprenticeships.
Rick Bloomingdale, PA AFL-CIO President, says, “There’s no debt at the end. Real apprenticeships mean earn while you learn, and leads to a job at the end.”
On Wednesday, Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order allowing the departments of corrections and aging to increase access to job training and apprenticeships and allowing the state’s Workforce Development Board to coordinate job training strategies across both the public and private sector.
Right now, 47% of workers have job training after high school. The goal is to increase that to 60% by 2025.
–Matt Heckel, JET 24 Action News