Pennsylvania needs more economic opportunities, and a new report from the Keystone Research Center showed federal investments in climate and infrastructure projects would help grow a skilled construction workforce.
Diana Polson, senior policy analyst at the center, said the report revealed federal money would create thousands of trade jobs through expanding union construction apprenticeships, leading to quality careers as electricians, operating engineers, carpenters, and laborers.
“In Pennsylvania, for example, these apprenticeships train workers for jobs that pay more than most college-educated workers earn, and 61% more than the average worker in Pennsylvania,” Polson pointed out. “Significantly, this training comes without any student debt.”
Polson added Gov. Josh Shapiro wants to use 3% of the federal funds from recently signed climate and infrastructure laws to expand workforce development and apprenticeships. Shapiro’s 2023-24 budget includes $6 million for the effort.
Polson noted President Joe Biden’s Good Jobs Initiative seeks to embed job quality and equity incentives into federal funding to make sure apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeships benefit underserved communities. She called it a huge win all around, for the state, climate, for those communities, and taxpayers.
“We had shared this in the report, research has shown that for every dollar invested in apprenticeship, $35 is returned to the government in higher tax collections, or reduced expenditures on public assistance or unemployment over the career of an apprentice,” Polson emphasized. “These are huge returns on investments.”
Keystone Research Center said the resources will lead to high-wage union construction careers. The center held a webinar on Friday, Nov. 17, at 1 p.m. on construction apprenticeship programs in coal country in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky.