Governor Wolf Takes Important Steps Toward Strengthening Workforce Development, Improving Efforts to Help People with Disabilities Find Employment

March 10, 2016

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today took two important steps that will improve and strengthen workforce development in Pennsylvania by aligning workforce development efforts with the private sector, strengthening connections between public sector efforts, and making the workforce development process more inclusive. Governor Wolf announced his administration has begun the submission process of the Pennsylvania Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) four-year combined state plan to the United States Department of Labor (USDOL). This plan will allow Pennsylvania to coordinate workforce training and funding to ensure Pennsylvania workers of all ages have the skills to compete in the 21st century and employers have a skilled workforce that aligns with emerging needs. Governor Wolf also signed an executive order to increase integrated employment opportunities among people with disabilities in Pennsylvania.

“Since taking office, I have made creating jobs that pay and a government that works key priorities, and today I am taking important steps to strengthen workforce development in Pennsylvania,” said Governor Wolf. “This is a starting point for an unprecedented effort in Pennsylvania to transcend fragmented workforce programs, overcome silos, and promote program integration.”

New federal legislation requires each state to submit a four-year unified or combined state plan outlining the state’s workforce development strategy. Pennsylvania used the opportunity to work with the private sector and many agencies including the departments of Labor & Industry, Aging, Agriculture, Community and Economic Development, Corrections, Education, Human Services, and Military and Veterans Affairs to create a plan that strengthen workforce development in Pennsylvania while leveraging federal efforts.

There are five broad goals for the commonwealth’s workforce development plan:

  • Establish clear career pathways.
  • Expand public-private investment in the state’s pipeline of workers and incumbent workers.
  • Increase opportunities for all youth to participate in work-based learning.
  • Engage employers through multi-employer workforce partnerships.
  • Strengthen data sharing across state agencies and workforce development partners.

Pennsylvania cannot succeed without a strong workforce, and today’s actions will make it easier for Pennsylvania’s public and private sectors to work together to improve the commonwealths efforts to improve the workforce and strengthen the economy.

Furthermore, Governor Wolf recognized that often those with disabilities face barriers to integrated employment opportunities and signed an executive order to make hiring and workforce development more inclusive. Wolf’s executive order is designed to increase employment among people with disabilities, and his administration will explore 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 of people with disabilities who are employed in competitive-integrated jobs. The plan will also work to align funding, policy, data collection, and practices.

“This action will increase the hiring of Pennsylvanians with a disability by allowing the commonwealth to tap a largely unused labor pool, and we will position Pennsylvania to be a model state in creating a climate hospitable to workers with a disability, who are a valuable resource,” Governor Wolf said.  “Under this executive order, competitive, integrated employment becomes the first consideration and preferred outcome of publicly funded education, training, employment, and long-term supports and service programs for working-age Pennsylvanians with a disability.”

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