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Gov. Shapiro touts funding for trade work, workforce education at Allentown technical college

Brian Myszkowski
Gov. Josh Shapiro came to the Allentown Campus of Eastern Atlantic States Carpenters Technical College Wednesday to tout major funding initiatives aimed at skilled worker training and apprenticeship programs in Pennsylvania.

  • Gov. Josh Shapiro joined local and state politicians to champion funding initiatives directed at workforce training and vocational-technical programs Wednesday
  • The commonwealth's 2023-2024 bipartisan budget sets aside $23.5 million in workforce training, and $6 million in apprenticeship programs
  • Shapiro said his administration aims to promote work in the trades as an opportunity for individuals to pursue their own course while being able to not only survive, but thrive

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Gov. Josh Shapiro joined state and local officials to celebrate the success of trade workers across the commonwealth and promote recent spending in job training intended to bolster the workforce for the region.
Shapiro spoke at the Allentown Campus of the Eastern Atlantic States Carpenters Technical College Wednesday to discuss the 2023-2024 bipartisan budget which will inject $23.5 million in workforce training and vocational-technical programs for skilled careers in addition to another $6 million in apprenticeship programs aimed at helping Pennsylvanians earn while they learn.

    The governor was joined by Executive Training Director of Eastern Atlantic States Carpenters Technical College Rob Smith, Allentown Mayor Matt Tuerk, Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh,Secretary of Labor and Industry Nancy A. Walker, and student Adam Arditi, all of whom applauded the funding effort and the goal to grow Pennsylvania’s pool of skilled trade workers.

    Smith kicked off the ceremony by paying homage to President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill and Shapiro’s leadership which will lead, “Pennsylvania to be home to countless opportunities for working families and contractors.”

    “Generational construction projects, good paying jobs, will now become available for Pennsylvania workers, and the Carpenters Union is proudly committed to providing their over 80 years of proven registered apprenticeship expertise, state-of-the-art training facilities, and earn-as-you-learn accredited apprenticeship training programs to prepare these workers for the jobs to continue building the legacy of Pennsylvania,” Smith said.

    Tuerk pointed out that the requirements to earn a living wage have changed significantly over the past few decades, essentially leaving behind those without specialized training to increase their job opportunities.

    “I'm glad to see that this Pennsylvania budget makes a commitment to workforce development, and making sure that our residents face no barriers in getting those good jobs,” Tuerk said.

    “You smartly partnered with a group of people that deeply understand the value of investing in our people, the labor unions, and I'm looking forward to working side by side with the commonwealth, with labor, and with the private sector, to make smart investments in our city and region that will make Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton a model for midsize cities across the country to grow our middle class and strengthen our economy,” he said.

    Schweyer, who lives only a quarter mile from the campus, championed the efforts of organizations like the Eastern Atlantic States Carpenters Technical College to provide students with an option to earn a good living doing vital jobs they enjoy.

    “This is a place where people come to learn and develop those skills that they need for a real family sustaining career. This is the kind of place where folks come so that they can be able to earn a living to buy a house, save for their kids’ college account, and retire in dignity. The things that all of us want, and all the stuff that we want for our children, happens in facilities like this,” Schweyer said.

    Walker pointed out the need to create opportunities for all by “develop[ing] a workforce that meets the needs of businesses across Pennsylvania today, as well as being prepared for the jobs of the future.”

    “According to the U.S. Department of Labor, someone who completes an apprenticeship program on average earns $80,000 a year the first year. Over the course of their work life, they earned $300,000 more than their peers,” Walker said.

    “This apprenticeship-driven model helps fill positions in schools, in hospitals, and healthcare facilities, helps provide workers to build bridges and buildings and roadways. And it creates a talent pipeline and a workforce that's representative of all people across the Commonwealth and the labor and industry.”

    Adam Arditi, member of Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters Local Union 167, took to the podium to share his tale of transitioning from a career as a graphic designer to a carpenter’s apprentice, and how much of an impact it had on his own life, and that of his wife and children.

    “Right now we have the resources, we have the leadership, we have the know-how. We just need more people to do this work."
    Gov. Josh Shapiro

    “It's challenging to jump into something new, but I went for it. But what many people do not understand is that graduating from an apprenticeship is not just about the good wages, family health care, and great benefits,” Arditi said.

    “No, it is an amazing aspect of joining the union. A union apprenticeship is about creating a skilled carpenter that is able to continue to grow within their industry. Even as a journeyman carpenter, I will continue to train at no cost to me to adapt to the ever-changing industry.”

    Arditi went on to introduce the governor, who said “If you ever want to look up the words ‘American dream,’ you're going to see a picture of Adam and his family in that book right next to that word.”

    Shapiro went on to celebrate the skilled workers of the commonwealth who played an integral role in quickly repairing I-95 in the wake of the road’s collapse in June 2023.

    “When after a critical stretch of I-95 that took 175,000 cars and trucks on it every single day collapsed, they saw union labor, they saw 14 carpenters go to work every single day for 12 days around the clock to get that road reopened for all of us again, and I want to thank organized labor and our union carpenter brothers and sisters for getting the job done,” Shapiro said.

    The governor noted “We need you now more than ever before,” pointing out projects underway in the Lehigh Valley, including bridge projects in Whitehall, which are helmed by skilled union laborers.

    Expanding beyond the aforementioned investments, Shapiro also spotlighted the creation of the Commonwealth Workforce Transformation Program, which will utilize $400 million to train 10,000 new employees in facilities such as the technical college so citizens have “the freedom to chart their own course, and the opportunity to succeed.”

    “Right now we have the resources, we have the leadership, we have the know-how. We just need more people to do this work,” Shapiro said.

    “And that's why we're making these investments today, in our high school classrooms, in training centers like this in apprenticeship programs, and out on the job site. We're doing it all, this is a pivotal moment. This is a moment for Pennsylvania to shine. And this is a moment to show the world again, we can do big things here in Pennsylvania.”