Thursday, July 16, 2009

Investing in Pennsylvania's Programs Leads to Growth in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania State Capitol StaircasePrograms such as Industry Partnerships, which increase wages by 6.6 percent, are integral to Pennsylvania's economic recovery


Throughout the current budget battle, many legislators seem to view important Pennsylvania programs as a budgetary problem when they are actually a means of helping the Commonwealth during this recession. Yesterday, leaders from local groups gathered in the Capitol Rotunda to remind legislators that investing in Pennsylvania's workers is the only way to foster future growth.

"The short-term fix of cutting important programs will lead to a future that requires even more spending to aid those who went without education, healthcare, and childcare when they needed it most," said Carol Goertzel, President/CEO of PathWays PA. "With 21 percent of all Pennsylvania households living with inadequate incomes, we need a budget that supports workers' progress towards self-sufficiency."

One of the most important state programs that invests in Pennsylvanians is the Industry Partnership program, which uses a small amount of funding to create long-term benefits for businesses and employees.

Programs like Industry Partnerships (IPs) provide opportunities for workers to earn new skills and credentials, creating a ladder that workers can climb to self-sufficiency. Since 2005, more than 73,000 workers have been trained through the Industry Partnership program, with wages increasing 6.6 percent on average in the first year after training. With opportunities for education and training such as IPs, many Pennsylvanians will gain the skills they need for jobs during and after the recession. This educated and skilled workforce can in turn lead to more jobs and higher incomes for Pennsylvanians, thereby increasing state revenue.


Industry Partnerships are not the only state program where small investments lead to larger gains. Other programs discussed at the press conference included community college funding, Child Care Works, and adult literacy, all of which lead to a more stable and educated workforce.

"In Pennsylvania, 38 percent of adults struggle with basic literacy skills, which means many have trouble filling out job applications or reading basic instructions," noted Goertzel. "With literacy education, these adults can move on to achieving better jobs, higher wages, and more secure employment."

During this recession, it is easy to ask for spending cuts without thinking about the bigger picture. However, when we eliminate essential programs and services, it is important to remember that we also eliminate the programs that provide opportunities for our population and workforce to help Pennsylvania while helping themselves.

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