PA Chamber Joins Gov. Wolf, Labor Leaders and Lawmakers at Event to Launch New Workforce Development Initiative

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

At an event in the Capitol Rotunda last week, PA Chamber President Gene Barr joined Gov. Tom Wolf as he signed into law an Executive Order to officially launch the new Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center.

This initiative was unveiled during the governor’s annual budget address that he presented earlier this month.  The Command Center aims to engage state agencies that are involved in workforce efforts, along with a range of private sector groups, to develop a multi-tiered strategy for closing an existing jobs skills gap and making Pennsylvania more competitive in the 21st Century.

In addition to Barr, Wolf appointed two others from the private sector to lead the command center: PA AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale, and Team PA co-chair Tony Bartolomeo.  He also selected three cabinet secretaries for the leadership panel: Department of State Acting Secretary Kathy Boockvar; Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin; and Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak.

At the event, Barr spoke to the critical link between a strong workforce and a strong economy.  He referenced the PA Chamber’s 2018 Annual Economic Survey, which found that for the first time ever employers are listing “finding skilled workers” as their top concern, adding that the business community has “more jobs available than people to fill them.”  

Workforce development is a cornerstone of the PA Chamber’s mission.  Our recent efforts have included launching a robust internal initiative, “Start the Conversation Here,” that provides resources to students and their families, educators and business leaders – including information on available, in-demand jobs and the requirements necessary to be eligible.  We are also in our third year of teaming up with the mikeroweWORKS Foundation to award Work Ethic Scholarships to deserving skilled trade students and have been engaged in numerous legislative efforts related to workforce development.

Barr’s participation in the news conference was covered in various newspaper articles, including the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, Daily Item, New Castle News, Meadville Tribune, Philly.com and Watchdog.org.