HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier today announced the availability of $1.2 million in grant funding to support Nursing Pathway Apprenticeship Industry Partnership programs in Pennsylvania. As part of the COVID-19 Nursing Workforce Initiative (NWI), which is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, this grant program blends the registered apprenticeship and industry partnership models and is designed to develop healthcare registered apprenticeship opportunities in communities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Nursing Pathway Apprenticeship Industry Partnership is a unique approach to L&I’s evolving workforce development model,” Secretary Berrier said. “As we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, this program will not only help address critical shortages in the nursing industry, but it will help create equitable access to opportunities that build meaningful careers and contribute to a strong economy, while eliminating barriers to quality, family-sustaining employment.”
In September 2021, Senator Maria Collett introduced the NWI initiative in support of and to retain nurses across the commonwealth as they navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. In support of Collett’s efforts, the Wolf Administration dedicated ARPA funds to the NWI initiative, which allowed L&I’s Apprenticeship and Training Office (ATO) to administer funding to registered apprenticeship and industry partnerships within underserved communities across the commonwealth.
Distributed through L&I’s ATO, Nursing Pathway grant funding will award local workforce development boards up to $260,000 to collaborate with community partners, organizations, sponsors, and regional industry partnerships to successfully register, maintain and manage nursing apprenticeship programs, as well as recruit and retain qualified healthcare professionals.
Through these efforts, businesses can partner and form an industry partnership, defined as one, overarching apprenticeship program serving multiple employers. Specifically, this grant program will prepare individuals for a range of nursing positions, including—but not limited to – home health aides, certified nursing assistants, and licensed practical nurses.
Applications for the Nursing Pathway Apprenticeship Industry Partnership grant program are due November 30, 2022, and are to be sent to the ATO grant resource account, [email protected]. Grant funding will support registered apprenticeships beginning April 2023 through June 2026.
APPRENTICESHIP UNDER THE WOLF ADMINISTRATION
Established in 2016, the ATO within the PA Department of Labor & Industry is responsible for guiding and promoting the expansion and compliance of all registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs across the commonwealth. The ATO oversees the development and approval of all registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship-related programs and ensures compliance with all regulations and standards. As of August 2022, the ATO supports 883 unduplicated program sponsors and 1,596 occupation-specific registered apprenticeship programs across the commonwealth, with 16,576 registered apprentices currently active.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that, on average, apprentices earn a starting wage of $70,000 per year after graduation and are on track to earn $300,000 more over their careers compared to workers who do not graduate from an apprenticeship program. For every dollar spent on apprenticeships, employers get an average of $1.47 back in increased productivity.
INDUSTRY PARTNERSHIPS UNDER THE WOLF ADMINISTRATION
PA Industry Partnerships build on highly successful, nationally recognized initiatives in Pennsylvania by combining the economic development concept of “cluster partnerships” that address the comprehensive needs of industry with the workforce development model of “sector initiatives” that focus on addressing specific training needs of the targeted industry. Instead of focusing on serving businesses’ needs based around public programs, Industry Partnerships put businesses at the center of a coordinated workforce and economic development system that reacts to businesses’ defined opportunities and priorities.
Since 2018, under Governor Wolf’s PAsmart initiative, the administration has distributed nearly $60 million statewide to expand job training through registered apprenticeships and industry partnerships and to support STEM and computer science education in hundreds of schools across Pennsylvania.
Strengthening job and skills training in Pennsylvania is a priority for the Wolf Administration as several workforce development programs have been created to meet local employer needs, including the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center, launched in 2019. This strategic public-private partnership helps to identify and address barriers to work, the skills gaps, and worker shortages in Pennsylvania.