NANTICOKE — Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday that skilled trade workers are vital to Pennsylvania’s economy.

“Investing in apprenticeship programs where participants can earn a wage while learning valuable new skills is one way we can ensure there is a strong pipeline of new talent in these key industries,” the governor said.

Wolfe continues his commitment to the commonwealth’s workforce by announcing $297,000 in new funding for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) local Joint Apprenticeship Committee (JATC) to train 30 apprentices in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Governor Wolf visited IBEW 163 last week to tout the earn-while-you-learn apprenticeship model and highlight his administration’s long-standing support for and investment in registered apprenticeship programs. In June, Local 163 received $446,247 through Gov. Wolf’s PAsmart initiative, which aims to increase the number of registered apprenticeship programs in non-traditional fields and reach underserved populations such as women and minorities.

Through a Pennsylvania grant program announced Wednesday, IBEW Local 163 JATC will train 30 people from Bradford, Luzerne, Sullivan and Wyoming counties to become skilled electrical workers through a five-year training program. The program includes 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and 900 hours of classroom training.

As an apprentice, members will earn between $13 and $27 per hour plus bonuses. Upon completion of the program, as a qualified electrician, participants can expect to earn at least $37 per hour plus benefits.

“The demand for skilled electrical workers in our four counties is growing,” said John Nadolny, director of training for the IBEW. “With DCED’s support, our program will increase student enrollment to meet the needs of local employers and prepare people with a high school diploma or GED for a living wage. From next year, apprentices will also have access to our new Center of Advanced Technology, where they will be able to gain work skills in green industries such as solar and electric vehicles.”

Nadolny said IBEW Local 163 works to provide the most skilled and productive workforce while ensuring the safety, rights and benefits of members in Bradford, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Sullivan and Wyoming counties.

Under Governor Wolf’s leadership, 85 pre-internship and apprenticeship programs have been supported and more than $13.3 million has been invested through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s (DCED) Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship Grant Program.

The program works to increase the availability of apprenticeships for Pennsylvania employers to help them recruit and develop talent. Funding for the pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship program is provided to eligible applicants to achieve the goal of expanding the availability of apprenticeships across the state. Eligible uses of funds include costs related to training that complements on-the-job training.

On Thursday, September 15, Wolf visited a state-of-the-art training facility in Nanticoke, Gov. Wolf, where he praised union leaders for expanding their registered apprenticeship program for electrical workers and touted the value of the proven “earn-while-you-learn” that allows them to earn salary while learning a skilled trade.

And, Wolff said, program participants graduate with no student debt.

Wolff’s Statewide Movement for Accountability, Preparedness and Learning (PAsmart) is designed to better align education, workforce and economic development initiatives and funding.

“IBEW Local 163 JATC is very excited to partner with PAsmart’s Registered Apprenticeship Program,” said Nadolny, who gave Wolff a tour of the former elementary school building. “With the help of Governor Wolf and the Office of Apprenticeship and Learning, we can now expand our program to reach underserved, minority, women and veteran populations.”

Contact Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle

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