In order to ensure that Pennsylvania can continue to boast a skilled and inspired workforce and remain competitive in the global market, the PA Chamber has made workforce development a cornerstone of its mission. We are working with policymakers to strengthen existing workforce development programs and ensure that the Commonwealth is fully developing and harnessing the talent, skills and capacities of its citizens.

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.”

On childcare:

“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.”

Addressing Workforce Challenges in Rural PA

May 30, 2023

Last week, PA Chamber Director of Government Affairs Kevin Sunday testified on the ongoing workforce challenges that employers face in the Commonwealth’s rural communities during a public hearing at Penn College hosted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. The hearing brought together leaders from Pennsylvania’s energy and healthcare sectors as well as educators, agency officials, […]

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PA Chamber Testifies on Workforce Challenges in Rural Communities

May 26, 2023 | Michael Plummer

  HARRISBURG – This week, PA Chamber Director of Government Affairs Kevin Sunday testified on the ongoing workforce challenges that employers face in the Commonwealth’s rural communities during a public hearing at Penn College hosted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. The hearing brought together leaders from Pennsylvania’s energy and healthcare sectors as well as […]

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On the Hill: PA Chamber Marks Progress on Top Legislative Priorities

May 22, 2023

The PA Chamber has made major policy strides this session on behalf of our broad-based membership and has identified three legislative areas as top priorities for the current session: tax reform, permitting reform, and workforce development. We know that Act 53 of 2022 brought us decades’ worth of tax reforms, including reducing our state’s corporate […]

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PA Chamber Statement on Senate Passage of S.B. 350

May 10, 2023 | Michael Plummer

HARRISBURG – Today, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Luke Bernstein released the following statement after the Pennsylvania Senate voted to pass S.B. 350, legislation that would enact meaningful and necessary reforms to the state’s permitting system: “We have a generational opportunity within our grasp to advance a significant permitting reform bill that would lead […]

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PA Chamber Leads Coalition in Calling on Lawmakers to Enact Permitting Reform

May 08, 2023 | Michael Plummer

HARRISBURG – Today, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry spearheaded a group of 68 leading business associations and local chambers of commerce in sending a letter to Governor Josh Shapiro and members of the Pennsylvania state legislature, urging them to take decisive action in reforming the state’s “dysfunctional and unpredictable permitting system.” The coalition, which represents several […]

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Bad For Business: State House Advances Trio of Overreaching Proposals

May 08, 2023

Last week, House lawmakers advanced several bills with the potential to significantly impact Pennsylvania employers: H.B. 950 Would amend the state constitution for the stated purpose of prohibiting future lawmakers from enacting “Right to Work” legislation, which guarantees that individuals cannot be forced to join or contribute financially to a union as a condition of […]

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Bipartisan “Clean Slate” Expansion Clears House Committee

May 08, 2023

Members of the House Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to advance H.B. 689 – bipartisan legislation that seeks to build on Pennsylvania’s first-in-the-nation Clean Slate law. Enacted in 2018, this policy expedites the expungement process by automatically sealing old criminal records if the individual has remained crime-free for a period of time. The PA Chamber worked […]

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ICYMI: PA Chamber Co-Hosts Tele-Town Hall with U.S. Chamber Leaders

October 05, 2022

Discussion highlighted state and federal efforts to combat inflation and rising costs   In case you missed it, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Luke Bernstein, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark and Executive Vice President Neil Bradley, and thousands of concerned citizens from across Pennsylvania discussed key economic […]

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Commuter Services Provides Employers Access to Transportation Resources as a Workforce Development Strategy

November 23, 2021

As we continue to navigate the pandemic, workforce development has become an important topic of discussion as employers compete to fill open positions.  Transportation is one of the major barriers faced by individuals seeking work, and Commuter Services can be a vital tool to help provide transportation resources to both employers and employees.   Commuter […]

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Montgomery County-Based Almac Group to Create 300 New Jobs

November 09, 2021

Almac Group is expanding, and we are looking for motivated individuals to join our team. Almac is an exceptional, award winning, drug development solutions provider at the forefront of the pharmaceutical industry. We are an international company with over 6,000 highly skilled personnel worldwide and over 1,500 employees in Pennsylvania, with a U.S. headquarters in […]

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PA Chamber Urges Thoughtful, Inclusive Process for Developing Far Reaching Workplace Proposal

October 22, 2021 | Leslie Gervasio

PA Chamber President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf announcing a series of executive orders impacting employers and the workplace. “We appreciate the governor’s intent and urge his administration to solicit input from employers to help avoid unintended consequences. For example, requiring strict wage and benefit standards […]

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PA Chamber CEO Testifies at Senate Hearing on Workforce Crisis

August 02, 2021

Last Wednesday, the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee held a hearing covering the economic impact of the workforce shortage.  PA Chamber President Gene Barr joined the committee to share the voice of countless businesses across the Commonwealth that have been affected by this challenge.  A copy of Gene’s submitted testimony is available here. […]

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Department of Labor and Industry Issues UC Fraud Guidance

July 26, 2021

Responding to skyrocketing claims of Unemployment Insurance Fraud, the PA Department of Labor and Industry this week provided employers with helpful tips for reporting fraudulent claims.  When responding to a Notice of Claim Filed that you believe to be fraudulent, keep the following tips in mind: L&I does not need any of the person’s actual […]

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Highlighting the Cost of the Workforce Shortage on Business

July 19, 2021

Yesterday, PA Chamber President and CEO Gene Barr joined CBS21’s Ryan Eldredge on Face the State to discuss the most significant problems for business as Pennsylvania emerges from the pandemic economy.  Potentially the most critical issue: The current workforce crisis. Employers, already struggling to recover after pandemic-era restrictions, are increasingly facing an impediments to fully […]

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State & Federal Political Recap

July 12, 2021

Gov. Wolf Holds News Conference in Support of Minimum Wage Increase On Friday, Governor Tom Wolf joined Democratic members of the House and Senate, including House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton, in Philadelphia to again call for a raise in Pennsylvania’s minimum wage.  Without regard for the economic consequences of this proposal, Gov. Wolf has repeatedly […]

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Gov. Tom Wolf, top Dems push for hourly wage increase

July 12, 2021 | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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PA Chamber Collaborates on Study Covering Childcare and the Workforce

July 12, 2021

Over the last 18 months, Pennsylvania employers and workers adapted to unprecedented challenges as shuttered schools and childcare facilities required typically full-time staff to care for their families on short notice. In recognition of these challenges, the PA Chamber teamed up with the PA Early Learning Investment Commission and the Center for Rural Pennsylvania to […]

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Admin Code Officially Law, Codifies Repeal of Wolf Administration’s Overtime Rule

July 12, 2021

Governor Wolf opted to neither sign nor veto H.B. 336, the Administrative Code bill that is one of four bills accompanying the state budget passed in late June.  Without action by the governor, legislation passing the General Assembly becomes law after 10 days. Among the bill’s key provisions was a one-sentence entry worked out as […]

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Employer Survey Shows Business Interest in Assisting Workers with Childcare, Flexible Scheduling to Support Families

July 09, 2021 | Sam Denisco

Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement upon the release of a joint report between the PA Chamber, PA Early Learning Investment Commission, and the Center for Rural Pennsylvania on childcare and the workforce: “Families have long strived to balance work and raising children. This tension was […]

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PA Chamber Applauds Vote to Scrap Crippling Overtime Rule, Save Businesses

June 28, 2021 | Sam Denisco

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement on the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s vote to block an onerous final overtime rule that would have hurt Pennsylvania businesses: “The damage the Department of Labor and Industry’s Overtime Rule could have caused to Pennsylvania businesses cannot be overstated,” […]

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Businesses Need Employees. Reentry Citizens Need Jobs. PA DOC is Bridging the Gap

June 16, 2021

When you think of someone “doing time,” what image comes to mind? How do you think they spend their days? What type of person do you imagine who is a felon? The typical images we see on television and in the movies include gangs, working out with weights, inmates sitting in their cells, or notorious […]

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Cedar Crest College: Preparing the Next Generation of Workforce Leaders

June 09, 2021

Cedar Crest College is a small private, liberal arts institution primarily for women in Allentown, PA, that prepares students for life and work in an everchanging world. Cedar Crest has educated the next generation of leaders and learners since its founding in 1867. Immersed in its mission, the College delivers a powerful educational experience through […]

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PA Chamber: Workforce Shortage Slowing Economic Recovery

May 27, 2021 | Tricia Harris

HARRISBURG – PA Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement regarding the current state of Pennsylvania’s workforce as employers experience challenges filling open positions: “As Pennsylvania begins to re-open, employers are reporting serious workforce shortages which are hindering the state’s economic recovery.  Over the past several months, we […]

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Editorial: More than one reason for unfilled job openings

May 18, 2021 | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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For Pennsylvania to be the most competitive state in the country and succeed in today’s global economy, the Commonwealth must develop and harness the talent, skills and capacities of its
citizens. Students must be prepared and workers must be able to adapt and continually acquire the training and skills required in the modern workplace.

Pennsylvania must establish a forward-thinking strategic approach to workforce development that invests to create a workforce for emerging markets and opportunities. We must leverage our incredible education system, people, and natural resources to attract and connect businesses with a workforce that provides better value than competing states. With the dramatic forces of change driven by the 4th industrial revolution there is a real opportunity to provide a strong career for Pennsylvanians in all facets of our society.

Policymakers should undertake regular and thorough reviews of existing workforce development programs to make sure each is achieving its objective at an acceptable cost-per-participant. These reviews should include a cost-benefit analysis and guide efforts to reduce fragmentation and provide more efficient delivery of services. Moreover, these reviews should be readily available to the public.

A comprehensive and effective workforce development strategy must concurrently focus on both near- and long-term approaches to strengthen the workforce. The PA Chamber supports near-term policies that expand the talent pool by encouraging work, facilitating opportunities for those often economically marginalized and addressing barriers to employment:

  • Improving the Unemployment Compensation system to ensure it is fulfilling its purpose of supporting those who lost their job through no fault of their own while encouraging rapid reemployment;
  • Advancing criminal justice reform measures that encourage and help reentrants and other people with criminal records to find and retain employment;
  • Developing and implementing policies that encourage employment and help provide opportunity for other often marginalized populations including individuals with disabilities; those recovering from addiction; immigrants and veterans;
  • Supporting gig workers and this emerging sector of the economy, which has provided wageearning opportunities for many whose lives may not be conducive to traditional employment;
  • Coordinating efforts between lawmakers, the business community and other partners to help realize economies of scale and ensure efficient deployment of resources;
  • Promoting a client-centered approach to reducing barriers to employment, such as lack of transportation, housing or affordable, quality childcare options;
  • Creating or improving systems that efficiently connect job seekers with job openings; particularly for those occupations where there are significant and growing opportunities;
  • Implementing initiatives that educate job seekers on workforce needs that match their occupational interests, and the skills and education needed to access job opportunities; and
  • Encouraging educational, retraining and upskilling opportunities for the current workforce to help ensure incumbent workers can obtain the skill set required for the modern and emerging economies;

The PA Chamber also supports policies and approaches that will strengthen Pennsylvania’s workforce in the long-term;

  • The establishment of clear performance criteria and system-wide accountability standards for
    all public workforce training programs;
  • Regular monitoring of program administration and outcomes to: assess efficacy; facilitate continual improvement of all existing public workforce training programs; address any regulatory obstacles that prevent or inhibit ideal program implementation and operation; and ensure Pennsylvania is best positioned to leverage federal funding to help accelerate workforce efforts;
  • Promotion of public-private partnerships and private sector educational and training programs, particularly apprenticeships and other innovative approaches to providing workplace experience and skill attainment opportunities, including internship and mentoring programs;
  • Promoting vocational education programs to highlight the attractive career opportunities in these fields and their critical importance to communities and the economy;
  • Expanding and improving educational options in the technical fields and others that require some level of post-secondary education to help job-seekers meet the requirements for employers in the economy of today and in the future;
  • Implementing initiatives that help identify current and long-term community workforce needs, complemented by career programs that promote jobseekers towards stable living wage jobs;
  • Encouraging policies that allow institutions of higher education to be nimble and efficiently react to market demands; as well as offer courses that align with workforce needs, such as online programs, that are structured to best facilitate participation from non-traditional students.

Policy edited by the Policy Committee in June of 2023 and approved by the Board of Directors on August 3, 2023