One of the most successful Industry Partnership programs in the United States is found in Lancaster County, Pa., where each year 3,000 to 4,000 workers are retrained to address skill gaps and help local companies remain competitive and productive.
The Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board‘s program has been so effective that it has been the recipient of 8-10% of the state’s Industry Partnership funding in the last few years. Last month, the WIB received an additional $990,000 through several grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to further support the productive Industry Partnerships.
“We’re one of a few states in the United States where there’s actually state money that’s put into funding incumbent worker training in an attempt to make companies competitive in the global marketplace,” said Scott Sheely, the Lancaster County WIB’s executive director (pictured at right).
The latest awards will help fund incumbent worker training in production agriculture, renewable energy, long-term care practice, manufacturing, and other key regional industries. Funds will also go to local Centers of Excellence, which focus on training as well as research and development, technology transfer, and entrepreneurial endeavors.
The thriving partnerships and training have been supported by EMSI’s labor market data and analysis. Sheely, who was responsible for putting the grant applications together, included EMSI’s 10-year industry and occupation projections as well as new and replacement numbers (which take into account retirements and other turnover). These datasets give the full employment picture for the region.
The data also help determine high-priority occupations, an important step because training funds can only be used to develop career paths for pre-identified occupations. Much of this process is determined by the state but workforce practitioners are able to give their local input as well. EMSI’s dataset allows Sheely to pinpoint other important, high-performing occupations in his region that may have been overlooked.
“A lot of times what will happen is that the percentage of jobs that will need to be hired in the next 10 years would increase by 20% because of retirement in certain industries,” Sheely explained. “That gives us enough data that we can go back to the state and say, ‘Purely on the basis of this unique data we would like to include (this occupation).’ We usually petition between 60 and 80 occupations beyond what the state automatically approves for us. So that’s a big deal, and having the independent data source is really the only way we could do it.”