Gov. Wolf at White House Discussion on Workforce Touts State’s Accomplishments, Thanks Pennsylvania General Assembly

June 13, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Governor Tom Wolf joined President Donald Trump and a group of governors today at the White House in a roundtable discussion on creating a highly skilled and successful workforce, highlighting his commitment to breaking down barriers to employment in Pennsylvania.

“We have a robust, focused bipartisan effort to address employment and creating the strongest workforce in the nation, and I appreciate the opportunity to share our accomplishments with the President and my fellow governors,” Gov. Wolf said. “We’re enhancing job training for in-demand careers, creating fairer job licensing requirements, supporting our military families, and removing barriers to success for formerly incarcerated individuals.

“These efforts would not even be considered without the shared commitment of our General Assembly and I thank them for their work and their many accomplishments.”

At the roundtable, Gov. Wolf outlined his comprehensive approach to workforce development, the governor also is proposing sweeping new reforms to occupational licensing that cut red tape and remove barriers to work.

After decades of expanding job licensing, there is a national movement to reduce restrictions while protecting consumers and benefiting workers and Pennsylvania is leading the way with Gov. Wolf’s proposed occupational licensing reforms, including:
• Repealing 13 job licenses and replace them with less restrictive requirements;
• Improving the process for military spouses to transfer occupational licenses from other states;
• Balancing education and training requirements by returning continuing education regulations to levels in state law;
• Removing the automatic 10-year ban on licensing for people with a drug felony conviction and enabling licensing board to make individual decisions.

Gov. Wolf also discussed his comprehensive workforce development strategy. His innovative PAsmart initiative that launched last year is investing in science and technology education, job training and apprenticeships, and the proposed Statewide Workforce, Education, and Accountability Program (SWEAP) builds on that success to provide opportunities for Pennsylvanians from birth to retirement. SWEAP expands access to early childhood education, increases investments in schools, and collaborates with the private sector and stakeholders.

Gov. Wolf has established the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center that brings together the private sector and state agencies to address the skills gap, worker shortages, and other workforce challenges and has launched the Apprenticeship and Training Office, resulting in 206 new apprenticeship programs or occupations and a total of 17,041 registered apprentices statewide.

Gov. Wolf also proposed the PA GI Bill to support military families. Expected to reach his desk soon, this first-in-the-nation bipartisan legislation enables members of the Pennsylvania National Guard (PNG) who reenlist to receive post-secondary education credits for their spouse and children.

A conversation on workforce should include criminal justice reform efforts, another strong bipartisan effort in Pennsylvania. Reentry and reintegration programs are helping inmates and parolees overcome barriers to post-incarceration success, further strengthening Pennsylvania’s workforce.

“We know that effective reentry strategies reduce recidivism and increase public safety, and we are cutting red tape to help those reentering their communities succeed,” Gov. Wolf said. “I commend our General Assembly for viewing this important, ongoing effort through a bi-partisan lens, focused on individuals, not political party.”

“Last year, a bipartisan push allowed us to be the first state to pass a Clean Slate law, which clears criminal records of nonviolent offenses after 10 years,” said Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland. “We are positioning Pennsylvania to be a leader in criminal justice reform, ensuring that people who have paid their debt are offered a second chance. Some of our latest initiatives include working to reform reentry issues, including technical violations from the parole system, job skills preparation and guaranteeing job applicants are not denied a state professional license based on a conviction unrelated to their chosen job field. I look forward to making more commonsense changes to our criminal justice system.”

“With the help of Governor Wolf, Pennsylvania has become a national leader in criminal justice reform,” said Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., House Democratic Whip. “From criminal record sealing, to the governor agreeing to ‘Ban the Box’ on state employee applications, to last session when we saw Clean Slate legislation championed by myself and my colleague Rep. Delozier signed into law, we continue to move forward with helping formally incarcerated and convicted individuals lead successful lives while saving taxpayer dollars by reducing recidivism. No one deserves to be judged forever by their worst day, and I look forward to continuing to work in a bipartisan fashion with legislators, advocates and Gov. Wolf as we make even more progress and keep Pennsylvania at the forefront of criminal justice reform.”

“Pennsylvania has made significant progress with criminal justice reform. I am co-chair of the new bipartisan Senate criminal justice caucus, intended to advance criminal justice reform,” said Sen. Haywood, D-Montgomery/Phila. “We will also work with the house to make this happen. The county probation improvements and sentencing changes passed the PA Senate and the Clean Slate law has been enacted. We are moving forward, and every step counts.”

“Pennsylvania has made incredible progress in breaking down barriers to reentry in recent years, but we still need to do more to help individuals take full advantage of the second chance they are given when they are released back into society,” said Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Beaver/Greene/Washington, who serves as co-chair of the Criminal Justice Reform Caucus. “I am encouraged that there is strong bipartisan interest in helping people move past their mistakes and build a new life without facing the daunting obstacles that leave them trapped in a cycle of crime and repeated incarceration. I look forward to working with leaders in both parties to advance new reforms that will build upon the measures we have already put in place to give every offender the best chance for success after reentry.”

“The consequence of having a record of incarceration in this nation has meant that re-incarceration was almost inevitable,” Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Phila. “Little hope of creditable employment has resulted in repeated poor decisions. Effecting countless individuals, families and taxpayers. I am extremely proud that Pennsylvania, led by Gov. Wolf with trailblazing legislation, clean slate, is now at the forefront of breaking this cycle of despair and replacing it with hope.”

“These licensing reforms, workforce initiatives and groundbreaking criminal justice reforms happened because Pennsylvania’s General Assembly is committed to and focused on bi-partisan efforts,” Gov. Wolf said. “I thank each of our legislators for working across the aisle with a blind-eye toward party. Pennsylvania must be a place where all people can put their skills, experience and education to work. I will continue to work with the private sector and the legislature to make smart investments in workers, so all Pennsylvanians have access to good jobs, Pennsylvania businesses grow, and new industries come to the commonwealth.”

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