PA Chamber Supports Multi-Faceted Approach to Strengthening Workforce
The PA Chamber understands the critical importance of helping workers fill an existing jobs skills gap and developing the next generation of skilled workers who will want to live and work in Pennsylvania. To that end, we’ve taken several recent steps to advocate for reforming our state’s workforce development programs and help our state’s employers find qualified employees.
Supporting Employers and Employees Through Childcare Challenges
PA Chamber Vice President of Government Affairs Alex Halper testified before the House Children and Youth Committee, sharing that many Pennsylvania-based employers have begun investing significant resources into offering an “all of the above” childcare benefits strategy in order to attract and retain employees amidst the ongoing workforce shortage.
During his testimony, Halper called on lawmakers to support employers in this effort by working to help reduce costs in other areas so that businesses of all sizes can afford to offer these benefits to attract new talent and grow their workforce.
“Pennsylvania employers are desperate for people. Across all industry sectors, they are struggling to recruit and retain people to fill open positions.”
“[Employers] are as creative and as thinking-outside-the-box as ever to recruit people into their businesses, including many Pennsylvania employers who are investing in their people’s childcare costs. But that is not always an option for every employer.”
“Moving forward, it has to be an all-of-the-above strategy, just like addressing workforce challenges in general, which will require a multifaceted public policy approach.”
“Funding is absolutely a part of it, but that can’t be the only part of it. That is not the panacea; we have to support these entities as employers and support those across Pennsylvania who are employing these individuals and trying to keep their costs down.”
Leading the Charge to Expand Clean Slate
Halper also spoke during a press conference in support of H.B. 689, bipartisan legislation that builds on Pennsylvania’s 2018 Clean Slate law – a first-in-the-nation policy that essentially expedites the expungement process by automatically sealing old criminal records if the individual has been crime free – encouraging Pennsylvanians to transition back into employment and help employers close workforce gaps. The PA Chamber worked with a strong bipartisan group of lawmakers to bring the first iteration of Clean Slate to the finish line, which has been well received by employers and job seekers alike and is a piece of the puzzle in building a robust, dynamic and well-trained workforce.
“The population of people with a criminal record represents a potentially vast pool of under-tapped talent in Pennsylvania,” Halper said. “Clean Slate advocates report that this policy encourages reformed individuals to reenter the workforce, and employers report that workers with past criminal records are often their best employees. We urge lawmakers to continue helping to facilitate these individuals’ employment through policies like Clean Slate.”
Fox 43 covered the press conference, which you can view here.
Engaging on Numerous Workforce Development Priorities
Additionally, PA Chamber Vice President of Public Affairs Jon Anzur spoke with the Central Penn Business Journal about the Chamber’s workforce development priorities, including strengthening job training, helping the private sector find childcare opportunities, and improving Pennsylvania’s tax and regulatory environment.
On the workforce shortage:
“So many workers left Pennsylvania to go to another state [during the pandemic] to find opportunities or just left the workforce entirely. Employers as a result are struggling to find qualified workers.”
“Pennsylvania is largely starting to recover the jobs that were lost during the pandemic. The challenge, though, is that Pennsylvania lagged the rest of the nation by six months to fully recover those jobs and our workforce today is smaller than it was pre-pandemic.”
On job training:
“We talk to employers in manufacturing, in technology and innovation, in health care and they have jobs that are available. They just can’t find the workers who have the skills necessary for those careers.”
“From our perspective, investing in proven job training and career and technical job training programs would help individuals develop the skills they need for the jobs that are available.”
“Investing in different educational programs and job training, and re-training of workers for these available jobs would go a long way.”
“We see younger families struggling to afford childcare and it’s leading to one of the adults in the family to leave the workforce to stay home with the kids. This is something we really think the private sector is responsible for driving solutions.”
On tax and regulatory reform:
“As businesses are able to save on costs as the result of tax and regulatory reform, they will be able to invest more of that money back into the workforce. That’s going to lift wages and lead to more Pennsylvanians seeking employment here.”