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Study says additional funding would create thousands of new jobs in region
Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 354 accepts applications from potential apprentices in Westmoreland, Fayette, portions of Washington and Greene counties on the third Monday of each month from 8 a.m. to 12 noon at its training center, 263 Armbrust Road, Youngwood, Westmoreland County. (Photo courtesy Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania, via Facebook)
Pennsylvania needs more economic opportunities and a new report from the Keystone Research Center showed federal investments in climate and infrastructure projects would help grow a skilled construction workforce.
Diana Polson, senior policy analyst at the center, said the report revealed federal money would create thousands of trade jobs through expanding union construction apprenticeships leading to quality careers, as electricians, operating engineers, carpenters, and laborers.
“In Pennsylvania, for example, these apprenticeships train workers for jobs that pay more than most college-educated workers earn, and 61 percent more than the average worker in Pennsylvania,” Polson said. “Significantly, this training comes without any student debt.”
(Chart: Keystone Research Center)
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro wants to use 3 percent of the federal funds from recently signed climate and infrastructure laws to expand workforce development and apprenticeships. Shapiro’s 2023-24 budget includes $6 million for the effort.
Polson said President Joe Biden’s Good Jobs Initiative seeks to embed job quality and equity incentives into the federal funding, to make sure apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeships benefit underserved communities.
She called it a huge win all around — for the state, for the environment, for those communities, and for taxpayers.
“We had shared this in the report, research has shown that for every dollar invested in apprenticeship $35 is returned to the government in higher tax collections, or reduced expenditures on public assistance or unemployment over the career of an apprentice,” Polson said. “These are huge returns on investments.”
Keystone Research Center said the resources will lead to high-wage union construction careers. On Friday, the center held a webinar on construction apprenticeship programs in coal country, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.
Danielle M. Smith is a producer for Public News Service, where this story first appeared. An award-winning radio journalist/personality with more than a decade of experience in broadcast media, she is a former audio journalist with American Urban Radio Networks and Sheridan Broadcasting Networks who also hosts a weekly community affairs show “Good News” on WGBN (1360 AM/98.9 FM).
Originally published November 17, 2023.