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From PA Chamber of Business & Industry
As the summer comes to a close, the PA Chamber is looking forward to a busy fall as lawmakers return to session and we work on finalizing the details for the 35th Annual Chamber Dinner.
As I noted in last month’s column, workforce development and addressing the Commonwealth’s jobs skills gap continue to be a major focus for the Wolf administration, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and especially the business community. As a cornerstone of the PA Chamber’s mission, our organization – through our Start the Conversation Here initiative – has been working to bridge the gap between Pennsylvania employers’ current and future employment needs and the skills of today’s workforce. Pennsylvania’s diverse employment needs across a wide range of industries provide ample job opportunities. However, the state continues to have people without jobs and job opportunities without the people with the skills to fill them. Despite the good paying, in-demand careers that the skilled trades provide, they still tend to get overlooked by graduating students and their families. Over the past three years, we have been pleased to team up with the mikeroweWORKS Foundation as it works to help change the negative perception about skilled trades jobs – which are vitally important to the economy and must be filled in order to close the skills gap.
At the end of August we were pleased to announce that 24 Commonwealth students have been awarded a total of $75,000 in mikeroweWORKS Work Ethic Scholarships. Since 2016, the PA Chamber Educational Foundation – with the support of the Commonwealth’s business community – has helped contribute nearly $195,000 towards the work ethic scholarship program, and approximately 94 Pennsylvania students have been awarded work ethic scholarships to attend technical schools within the state. Several of this year’s scholarship recipients will be profiled in an upcoming issue of the PA Chamber’s magazine, Catalyst. The PA Chamber is currently raising funds to continue to support its Start the Conversation HERE initiative. More information on the PA Chamber’s far-reaching workforce initiative is available online.
This month also marks the start of the fall legislative session. Over the summer a number of issues that could impact the business community have been bandied about by the Wolf administration and lawmakers, including: charter school reform, regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, a severance tax on natural gas, a minimum wage increase and property tax reform. We are urging lawmakers to continue the positive momentum of the state’s strong 2018-19 fiscal year by enacting pro-growth policies and cautioning against implementing policies that will increase the cost of doing business in the Commonwealth and hurt the state’s overall economic climate. With legislators scheduled to return to Harrisburg in mid-September, we are closely monitoring these and other issues that will have a strong impact on businesses across the state.