Shapiro Administration Celebrates Earn-As-You-Learn Success Stories

March 13, 2024

Pittsburgh, PA – Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Nancy A. Walker joined Pittsburgh labor and workforce development leaders today to recognize four outstanding organizations and individuals who have embraced the earn-as-you-learn model of registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship to create economic opportunity for Pennsylvania communities and families. This inaugural awards ceremony was hosted by L&I’s Apprenticeship and Training Office (ATO) to celebrate outstanding Pennsylvania program sponsors and apprentices.

“Apprenticeships are essential to meet the demand for skilled workers to support industry needs,” said Secretary Walker. “The organizations and individuals we recognized today exemplify some of the best in the apprenticeship space here in Pennsylvania, and they should stand as a model for other organizations looking to start their own registered program.”

Since the start of his Administration, Governor Josh Shapiro has been focused on creating real opportunities for people to obtain good-paying jobs. That’s why Governor Shapiro’s 2024- 25 budget proposal builds on the 2023-24 budget with bipartisan support for investments in workforce development, including $6 million for apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.

Established in 2016, L&I’s Apprenticeship and Training Office (ATO) is responsible for guiding and promoting the expansion and compliance of all registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs across the Commonwealth. The ATO currently supports 880 unduplicated program sponsors, 117 registered pre-apprenticeship programs, and 1,553 occupation-specific registered apprenticeship programs across the Commonwealth, with more than 16,442 registered apprentices currently active.

The event was held at the Carpenters’ Training Center in Pittsburgh and co-hosted by Partner4Work, a leading workforce development organization in Allegheny County. Four organizations/individuals were recognized in the following categories:

• Outstanding Registered Apprentice Award: Presented in recognition of leadership qualities, problem-solving, motivation, and willingness to learn skills in completing a Pennsylvania registered apprenticeship program and achieving journey worker status. o Winner: Sierra Peebles, of Erie, who completed a child development specialist apprenticeship in 2023 through determination and perseverance to overcome obstacles.

• Outstanding Registered Apprenticeship Sponsor Award: Presented in recognition of a successful Pennsylvania registered apprenticeship program. The registered program chosen has exemplified embracing partnerships, apprenticeship ecosystem building and training successful journey workers. o Winner: German American Chamber of Commerce, Pittsburgh Chapter, which sponsors four programs involving more than 40 employers, four community colleges and nearly 50 high schools and career and technical education centers.

• Outstanding Registered Pre-Apprentice Award: Presented in recognition of a successful completion of a registered pre-apprenticeship program. The person chosen is an integral part of the apprenticeship ecosystem and valued in assisting pre-apprentices achieve success. o Winner: Brandon Wolfe, of Pittsburgh, who completed a carpentry pre-apprenticeship and is currently a carpentry apprentice.

• Outstanding Registered Pre-Apprenticeship Sponsor Award: Presented in recognition of a successful Pennsylvania registered pre-apprenticeship program. The program chosen is an integral part of the apprenticeship ecosystem and valued in assisting pre-apprentices achieve success.

  • Winner: Breaking the Chains of Poverty in Pittsburgh, which has produced a successful pre-apprenticeship program through its commitment to increase diversity in the trades and prioritize inclusion of minority, underemployed, previously incarcerated, and low-income populations.

The Shapiro Administration is committed to skills-based hiring, where every career path is treated with respect, regardless of whether it requires a college degree or not. That’s why Governor Shapiro signed an Executive Order on his first day in office announcing 92% of state government jobs no longer require a four-year college degree – and it’s why his Administration has made historic investments in workforce apprenticeship programs.

For example, under Governor Shapiro’s leadership, L&I has partnered with the Department of Agriculture to create more apprenticeship opportunities and training programs within Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry. This work builds on Governor Shapiro’s investment in organic agriculture through the Center for Organic Excellence, created in the 2023-24 budget.

Last month, the Shapiro Administration announced $4.2 million in Industry Partnership grants for projects statewide that will prepare Pennsylvania workers for family-sustaining jobs in the Commonwealth’s most dynamic industries – including multiple projects to create or expand registered apprenticeship opportunities.

In January, the Shapiro Administration announced a $379,000 grant to Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit to develop an apprenticeship program for teachers — a first-of-its-kind effort to address staffing shortages in Pennsylvania schools and create earn-as-you-learn opportunities for individuals interested in careers as certified elementary and secondary teachers.

Governor Shapiro’s proposed 2024-25 budget continues to invest in career and technical and vo-tech education, apprenticeship programs, and on-the-job training. Governor Shapiro is proposing to:

• Build on last year’s investment in Career and Technical Education with a $2.4 million increase and continuation of $7 million in support of dual enrollment;

• Increase the Commonwealth’s investment in Industry Partnerships by $2.2 million to support the workforce development and workforce needs of Pennsylvania’s workers and businesses;

• Invest $2 million to build a digital one-stop-shop for career pathways serving all Pennsylvanians, regardless of their age or educational level;

• Invest $2 million to help businesses transition to skills-based hiring practices, to ensure that more Pennsylvanians who have the skills and experience but not a college degree – or the “right” degree – can find quality jobs that pay family-sustaining wages;

• Protect workers and law-abiding employers by adding 12 investigators to L&I’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance; and,

• Expand and improve the Military Occupational Crosswalk resource for military families with a $500,000 investment to develop a user-friendly web portal.

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