Governor Wolf Pushes ‘Strongest Workforce in the Nation’ Plans

April 25, 2019

Philadelphia, PA – Governor Tom Wolf joined the opening celebration today of the Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI) Commercial HVAC Pathways Vocational Lab. The North Philadelphia facility in the Energy Coordinating Agency’s (ECA) Knight Green Jobs Training Center will prepare high school students, reentrants and underemployed workers for good heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) careers in the growing clean energy economy.

The Department of Education provided a $277,500 grant through the Job Training and Education Program to support the new lab.

“Pennsylvania is investing in training more people to get the skills and qualifications for good careers,” said Governor Wolf. “We have a shortage of skilled apprentices and workers for jobs like this. By partnering with industry, educators, and government, we can provide the job training for more people to find a path to good-paying jobs, strengthen the middle class and make Pennsylvania a hub of high-growth industries.”

Governor Wolf has launched an ambitious and bold strategy for Pennsylvania to have the strongest workforce in the nation. The governor’s initiatives include:

• Creating PAsmart, a new innovative $30 million investment in STEM and computer science education, apprenticeships and job training that prioritizes partnerships among schools, employers and communities. The governor is proposing an additional $10 million for PAsmart to expand job training to more adult workers.
• Proposing the Statewide Workforce, Education, and Accountability Program (SWEAP) in the 2019-20 budget. SWEAP builds on the success of PAsmart to provide opportunities for Pennsylvanians from birth to retirement. The plan expands access to early childhood education, increases investments in schools, and partners with the private sector.
• Establishing the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center that brings together commonwealth agencies and the private sector address the skills gap, worker shortages, and other workforce challenges.
• Launching the Apprenticeship and Training Office resulting in 138 new sponsors and 193 new apprenticeship programs or occupations, increasing the total number of registered apprentices to 16,866 statewide.
• Starting the Manufacturing PA Initiative to support critical training in the important sector of that economy.
• Joining the Skillful State Network, a nonprofit initiative of the Markle Foundation to emphasize the importance of skills so workers, particularly those without four-year college degrees, can get good jobs in the changing economy.
The lab will provide both residential and commercial building maintenance and HVAC training through a collaboration between the JCI Learning Institute and ECA. According to ECA, students who complete the first 600 hours of instruction are qualified for entry level HVAC jobs ranging from $30,000-$40,000 annually. The lab will offer additional credentials that significantly increase a graduate’s earning potential.

HVAC technicians are expected to be in high demand over the next few years. The need for workers will also be driven by the Philadelphia Energy Campaign’s $1 billion investment in energy efficiency and clean energy over the next 10 years.

During the ceremony and ribbon cutting Governor Wolf joined Mayor Jim Kenney; Councilman Derek Green; Pat Clancy, CEO of Philadelphia Works; Sen. Christine Tartaglione; Michelle Armstrong, Executive Director of the Office of Career and Technical Education, School District of Philadelphia; and Emily Schapira, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Energy Authority.

Johnson Controls International is a multi-national building technology conglomerate. It has three manufacturing plants and 1,900 employees in Pennsylvania. The Energy Coordinating Agency helps people conserve energy and promotes a sustainable and socially equitable energy future for all.

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