Pa. executive order directs $400M to infrastructure workforce training

It will provide reimbursement to organizations that provide trainings.
The Pennsylvania state Capitol is seen on Dec. 14, 2020, in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

PITTSBURGH — Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) signed an executive order here on Monday that directs up to $400 million in federal funds to a new workforce training program. The Commonwealth Workforce Transformation Program, which Shapiro said is the first of its kind in the country, will provide reimbursement to organizations that provide training to infrastructure workers.

“Look, if we want to grow our economy, we want to build big things again in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, if we want to create real opportunity for our people, we need to invest in our workers and expand our workforce right now,” Shapiro said during a press conference. He made his remarks in front of a construction site in Pittsburgh’s Esplen neighborhood where the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority was replacing lead pipes.

“But we need the workforce to be able to do it,” Shapiro added. “One of the biggest hurdles we face is having enough workers trained and ready for these kinds of projects at a time when we now have more money than ever before for this type of investment.”

Organizations doing infrastructure work funded by the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or Inflation Reduction Act, like road and bridge repair, expanding high-speed internet access, and replacing lead pipes, will be eligible for the new program.

The organizations can receive up to $40,000 for each new worker they train, for things like childcare, uniforms, certification costs, and equipment. Shapiro said the program would create 10,000 jobs

Shapiro pointed to the first executive order he signed when he took office, which removed college degree requirements from 92% of state government jobs as an example of his administration’s focus on job development. And he noted that Pennsylvania had recently demonstrated the depth of its infrastructure workforce when it rebuilt a damaged section of Interstate 95 in Philadelphia in 12 days.

“We took advantage of the expertise of our engineers and the skills of our union tradespeople and we designed the solution quickly,” he said. “We worked around the clock with the heat or the rain. 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And instead of months, we reopened I-95 in 12 days, we showed what’s possible when our highly skilled workers, get to work.”

This story was first published in Pennsylvania Capital-Star, part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.