BLOG: Access Equals Success: Putting Pennsylvanians to Work

By: David DeNotaris, Executive Director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

March 21, 2016

Strengthening Pennsylvania’s workforce development system means a better system for all people, including those with disabilities.

Accomplishing this demands a commitment from the top down. Governor Wolf understands this and as such has made a commitment to two imperative workforce development programs.

Just last week, Governor Wolf announced that his administration has begun the submission process of the Pennsylvania Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) four-year combined state plan to the US Department of Labor (USDOL).

Just last week, he signed an executive order to increase employment opportunities among people with disabilities.

By announcing these two important steps, the governor is ensuring Pennsylvania’s workforce development system is providing jobs that pay through government that works.

The WIOA combined state plan is an official outline of the state’s workforce development strategy. Every Pennsylvania workforce development stakeholder played a role in creating this plan. Input was received from the private sector, the general public, and multiple government agencies, including the departments of Aging, Agriculture, Community and Economic Development, Corrections, Education, Human Services, Military and Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Labor & Industry.

Together, this collaborative multi-agency group came up with five broad goals for the commonwealth’s workforce development system:

wioa

Through these goals, we will unite fragmented workforce programs, overcome silos, and promote program integration. This step by Governor Wolf is an unprecedented effort to create both jobs that pay and a well-trained workforce prepared to take-on 21st century jobs.

Governor Wolf’s executive order to increase employment opportunities among people with disabilities is also a huge step for Pennsylvania workforce development.

The Department of Labor & Industry houses Pennsylvania’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), which exists to provide services that help people with disabilities prepare for, obtain, or maintain employment. The governor’s executive order recognizes two things that those of us associated with OVR have seen for some time:

  1. The barriers to employment that those with disabilities face are remarkably challenging.
  2. Once employed, workers with disabilities are typically among a company’s best employees.

This executive order will allow the administration to explore new ways to reduce barriers to employment, as well as conduct a thorough review of programs and policies with a goal of increasing the overall number or people with disabilities who are employed in competitive, integrated jobs.

This is truly government that works, at work.

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