The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) today announced more than $6 million in grant funding awarded to four local workforce development boards (LWDBs) helping Pennsylvania job seekers re-enroll in educational programs and complete credential requirements through the Near Completer grant program.
The Near Completer grant program is designed for Pennsylvanians who have started post-secondary education in high-priority, in-demand fields but stopped without completing their degrees or certificates. Under the guidance of LWDBs, participants will gain the skills and job training needed to obtain quality employment with family-sustaining wages – a key priority of Governor Josh Shapiro’s budget proposal.
As Pennsylvania and the nation face major workforce shortages, the Shapiro Administration’s continued funding of the Near Completer program will help address significant labor shortages across a range of sectors, many of which inhibit economic growth. These awards will assist employers across the Commonwealth with recruiting and retaining workers, while simultaneously helping job seekers who are close to graduating or certificate completion, ensuring Pennsylvania jobs are staffed with knowledgeable, skilled employees, and workers are equipped to succeed.
“Whether through post-secondary education or career training, Pennsylvanians of all ages and backgrounds deserve the opportunity to chart their own course,” said L&I Acting Secretary Nancy Walker. “The Near Completer grant program is an undeniable investment in our workforce. It will not only help eliminate worker shortages but will provide the necessary support and resources Pennsylvanians need in their pursuit of meaningful, family-sustaining employment.”
LWDBs awarded grant funding will partner with Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) schools or other post-secondary education institutions, businesses, workforce leaders, and community partners to help eliminate common barriers faced by individuals seeking re-enrollment. Specifically, individuals who were seeking credentials in any occupation at a school overseen by PASSHE will be supported by this program. It will also support workers who were obtaining certification in an in-demand occupation from other post-secondary institutions.
According to the United States Department of Education, students who often withdraw from post-secondary institutions encounter barriers to completing their education, including childcare, transportation, health-related issues and financial strain. Governor Shapiro’s budget proposal helps address this challenge by providing a significant investment in Pennsylvania’s education system and placing a significant emphasis on tackling labor shortages in Pennsylvania’s workforce.
The following LWDBs were awarded through this second round of Near Completer grant funding. The grant program, funded by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), will begin on June 1, 2023 and run until June 30, 2024.
Bucks County Workforce Board – $1,333,268
The Bucks County Near Completer Program will formally re-engage 124 withdrawn students and assist them with a credential or post-secondary degree and/or certificate of completion. This partnership will include Bucks County Workforce Development Board, PA CareerLink® Bucks County, Educational Data Systems, Inc., Bucks County Community College, and Delaware Valley University. The Near Completer Program will serve dislocated and incumbent workers and individuals who are unemployed.
Chester County Workforce Board – $2,023,117
Project RECONNECT will bring together the workforce development and post-secondary ecosystems in Chester, Montgomery, and Berks counties. This is a first-of-its-kind collaboration that will support nearly 100 Pennsylvanians with some college education, but no degree, to be employed in their intended training area, thereby improving the career mobility of the individual while increasing the economic competitiveness of the region.
Lancaster County Workforce Board – $2,197,104
ACHIEVE is a collaborative project that enables Pennsylvania residents to complete an unfinished certificate or degree program in a high-demand, family-sustaining wage occupation while providing education, workforce, and holistic wrap-around support. ACHIEVE incorporates innovative practices that apply rapid credentialing strategies including credit transfers, prior learning credit/experience, military credit, stackable credential attainment, online and asynchronous accessibility, as well as deployment of a network of support including case management, peer support, career guidance, and employment support services.
Workforce Board – $475,182
The WFWDB and Seton Hill University will support 15 to 20 SHU Online Degree Program students. These students will be dislocated, incumbent, or unemployed Pennsylvania workers who have left a higher education institution in the last two years. Degree options available to students include accounting, allied health leadership, healthcare administration, behavioral health, business administration, human resource management, marketing, and the RN to BSN pathway.
For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, please visit the website or follow L&I on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
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