Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board
The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board were honored to host Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and Industry, Kathy Manderino, for a business roundtable and her first visit to the Lehigh Valley as Secretary!
The forum was held at the Pennsylvania CareerLink Lehigh Valley and highlighted Governor Wolf's focus on education and workforce development. Wolf's goals are initially connecting education with the workforce to create strong middle class jobs. However, the road block is that many communities don't have sufficient tax base to help support education.
"The state tax structure was developed during an industrialized era and the present has different requirements," said Manderino. "It has not changed and we have to restructure ways to raise revenue and provide services to people who want it," she continued.
Along with her goals and objectives, Secretary Manderino highlighted Governor Wolf’s focus over the next four years. Wolf ‘s proposed budget includes three significant initiatives that affect Labor & Industry.
· Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) - A new federal law that PA is implementing to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed and to match employers with the skilled workers.
· Industry Partnership reinvestment – Industry Partnerships are focused on creating a skilled workforce through industry-specific training and education programs developed in cooperation with business and industry leaders. Gov. Wolf has proposed a budget of $11.5 million which is large increase from previous budgets of $1.5 million.
· Vocational rehabilitation investment – Vocational rehabilitation services help people with disabilities prepare for, obtain, or maintain employment which supports getting people back to work
During the interactive discussion, Secretary Manderino responded to many inquiries, but the closing question was an audience member who questioned an increase in minimum wage. Manderino stated 29 states have higher minimum wages than PA and suggested that "raising the minimum wage would be the biggest thing we can do to reduce poverty and it would bring 160,000 individuals out of poverty level."
We are optimistic regarding Secretary Manderino’s commitment to education and workforce development issues and look forward to working with Secretary Manderino and the PA Department of Labor and Industry in the future.
For more information about Secretary Manderino’s and Governor Wolf’s plans, visit www.wfmz.com to watch her taping of Business Matters with Tony Iannelli.