Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Employers: Get Involved in Lehigh Valley’s Industry Partnerships!

Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc.

We are pleased to announce that the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board recently received $400,000 of Industry Partnership funds from the PA Department of Labor and Industry to upskill workers in two crucial Lehigh Valley industry sectors: $200,000 for Diversified Manufacturing and $200,000 for Transportation, Warehousing and Logistics.

These high-demand, high-growth industries are critical drivers of Lehigh Valley’s economy, making up 17 percent of jobs in our region.  Industry Partnership resources give businesses in targeted sectors the opportunity to train their current workforce, increase skills, improve productivity, and allow employers to remain profitable in a highly competitive marketplace.

To understand local workforce needs and how these valuable resources can be directed based on business demands, the LVWDB in partnership with the Chamber hosted an Employer Roundtable in November to identify common training and workforce needs.  The discussion uncovered training needs such as leadership, supervisory, team building, continuous improvement, Lean principles, problem solving, communications skills and more, as well as occupational training such as machining, Commercial Driver’s
License (CDL), forklift, quality, safety, electrical, and industrial maintenance, to name just a few.  Employers expressed the importance of increasing career awareness of their industry, ensuring the transfer of knowledge, upskilling their current workforce, and building a future workforce pipeline. 

If you are a Diversified Manufacturing, Transportation, Warehousing or Logistics company, we invite you to get involved, share your workforce needs, and join our Industry Partnerships.  Please contact me at 610-841-1122 or email and help build Lehigh Valley’s world-class competitive workforce.  

The Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board recently invited over 35 manufacturing, transportation, warehousing and logistics companies to a roundtable discussion.  Industry leaders identified over 50 training needs and discussed programs that provide resources for Lehigh Valley Industry Partnerships.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Why should your business make the LEAP?

Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc.

Why your business should make the LEAP!
Linking to Employment Activities Pre-release (LEAP) Project

It costs taxpayers an average of $42,339 a year to house a prisoner in Pennsylvania. What can employers and businesses do to lessen this burden on taxpayers?  HIRE Ex-Offenders! Some employers may be apprehensive about hiring people with criminal backgrounds but there is a program that is inspiring and equipping offenders with job readiness and employability skills which make them better prepared to enter or rejoin the workforce.

The Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board and Northampton County Executive John Brown applied for and received a $500,000 U.S. Department of Labor grant to partner with Northampton County Department of Corrections to provide transitioning offenders from the County Jail with the critical job readiness and employability skills needed to get and keep a job and to lower recidivism rates, resulting in safer communities, reduced costs to taxpayers, and better prepared employees.
There are two components to the LEAP Project – a pre-release program and a post-release program.  The pre-release program is built around the creation of a mini-CareerLink Center right inside the jail called the LEAP Center.  The Northampton County Jail provided three rooms in the facility for the LEAP Center – a classroom that can accommodate 12 students, a computer lab, and an office area.  The post-release program helps returning citizens seamlessly transition to PA CareerLink® Lehigh Valley where they can connect to all the programs, training and supports offered. 

The Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board has four people at the Northampton County Jail to staff the LEAP Project – a project manager, two instructors and a re-entry navigator who splits her time between the Jail and CareerLink.  LEAP staff actively screen and recruit potential LEAP participants as soon as they enter the Jail.  Participation in the LEAP Project is strictly voluntary and no one is sentenced to attend the program.  In addition, to participate in LEAP offenders must meet the eligibility requirements of the program.  Basic eligibility requirements include:   offenders must be sentenced, have a minimum of 10 weeks until release and a maximum of 25 weeks, must have a high school diploma or GED, and must be misconduct-free for at least 30 days. 

Once an offender is accepted into the program, he or she is assessed to determine baseline measures of his or her job readiness and risk of re-offending.  Participants then receive individualized case management and an Individualized Development Plan is developed to map out a career pathway and action plan to help ensure job placement and successful re-entry into the workforce and community.
A keystone of the LEAP pre-release program is the core curriculum used with participants in 28 two-hour classes where they learn practical job-finding skills, practice positive and professional behaviors, and explore their own strengths and values.  In addition to the classes, LEAP participants go to the computer lab to learn keyboarding and basic computer skills, register on JobGateway® (the state’s on-line job matching system), and research and apply for jobs.  A critically important component of LEAP participants’ time in the computer lab is the one-on-one mentoring they receive from Society of Human Resource Management/Lehigh Valley Chapter (SHRM), an important partner in the LEAP Project.  SHRM professionals provide LEAP participants with assistance exploring careers, preparing their resume and cover letters, and conducting mock job interviews.
Once a LEAP participant completes the pre-release component of the program and is released from jail, the LEAP re-entry navigator sets-up an initial appointment and meets the participant at CareerLink.  These participants will have access to all the services offered including case management, job coaching, workshops, career services, job fairs, occupational training opportunities and support services.            

Since the first LEAP participants began classes in January 2016, 121 offenders were enrolled in the LEAP program and to date, 63 have been released from jail.  Of these 63, 43 are already working and two have enrolled in vocational training. 

What the LEAP participants did not expect when enrolling in the LEAP program was the emotional and physical benefits.  They are breaking down barriers not only for workforce issues but emotional barriers that have caused them to be incarcerated in the first place.

One LEAP participant stated, “This is much more than job readiness, this has taught me about who I am and what I have been doing wrong.”  He went on to say with much emotion and pride “I have nothing but positive things to say about this program, it helped me get support and resources I never had before.” This particular LEAP participant has two young children and a wife living with family since his most recent incarceration left his family homeless.  Now he hopes to get a job as a forklift operator when he gets released from jail and then work towards becoming a welder. He knows now that he needs a job right away to start paying fines and take care of his family.  These are all realizations that he discovered while in the LEAP program. He now has a plan he will aspire to meet, plans he would not have without this program.

What do LEAP participants want employers like you to know next time they apply for a job at your company? “We are not bad people and we need a chance.” Hiring a LEAP participant may make your business eligible for a Work Opportunity Tax Credit.  And for those businesses that are afraid of liability issues from hiring a job applicant with a “risk” factor, the PA Department of Labor and Industry has a no-cost federal bonding program that protects employers from any loss of money or property due to employee dishonesty. 

For more information about the LEAP Project, contact Bill Bartle at the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board at 610-841-8323.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

3 Resources for Job Seekers

I know my message is always geared to the employers but I am betting that many people know someone who is either looking for a job or thinking about a career change.

Please watch our episode with The Peak TV regarding resources available to all Lehigh County and Northampton County residents who are looking for a job or need training.

The PA CareerLink® LVhas just about all the resources you need!

Plus you can follow the available jobs and events on our social media sites....Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

My testimony.....

Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc.

A few months back I testified before the House Select Subcommittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness.  It was a pleasure to represent the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc. (LVWDB) to Chairman Grove, Chairman Harkins, and members of the committee. 

I am providing the testimony in order to stress that no matter the political climate or arguments surrounding jobs we at the LVWDB are your workforce partner that is working hard to provide programing and training for our residents in order to determine:

  1. Where are the jobs ?
  2. What are the skills necessary?
  3. What are the education requirements?

This particular testimony focused on the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) laws. The Goal of WIOA is to improve the quality of the workforce, reduce dependency on welfare, increase self-sufficiency, meet the skills requirement of employers and enhance productivity and competitiveness.

For more information on the House Select Subcommittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness please visit:

Do you see something missing?  Contact me at NANCY DISCHINAT, Phone 610-841-1122 or drop me a line at 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Education and Talent Supply Council

Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board Inc.,

Just a few months ago, representatives from the Lehigh Valley’s educational institutions, major employers, and economic development and workforce agencies gathered in the meeting room of the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board (LVWDB), rolled up their sleeves, and got to work.
This unprecedented partnership marked the inaugural meeting of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) Education and Talent Supply Council, a group of stakeholders from various entities all sharing the same goal: developing current workforce supply and demand data, and creating and executing regional strategies that help maintain a workforce and talent supply.
“The availability of trained workers is now the number one factor driving company locations, even more so than the total operating costs,” said Don Cunningham, President and CEO of LVEDC. “The regions that best solve the talent supply equations are the ones that will score the big wins in economic development competition.”
In addition to LVEDC and the LVWDB, this council includes representatives from the Lehigh Valley’s wide array of educational institutions including research universities, liberal arts colleges, community colleges, school districts and career and technological schools, as well as major regional employers like Ocean Spray, Mack Trucks, and Olympus Corp.
Bringing these entities together to better connect the Lehigh Valley’s labor supply and demand is such an innovative concept, it’s beginning to develop interest statewide as a potential model to be emulated.  Cunningham and Northampton Community College President Mark Erickson, who chairs the council, were invited to Harrisburg in September to testify about the effort before the Pennsylvania House Subcommittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness.
“The first step in understanding the gap between the education talent supply and workforce needs of employers is to gather accurate and timely data, and to code that data in a way that is consistent across institutions,” Erickson said during his testimony. “The second, and most critical step, is to assess potential gaps, and ultimately assure alignment with the workforce needs of the region we serve.”
The council has begun to identify areas of focus to prioritize, discussing such topics as establishing internships, standardizing terminology in job descriptions to ensure more candidates are found, testing and verifying workforce data, and creating more intensive employer engagement.  The objective is to have each Lehigh Valley college and school provide information on the pipeline of talent preparing to enter the local labor market.
Developing data-driven, innovative and cost-effective workforce strategies has always been a priority for both LVWDB and LVEDC. That why we’ve partnered on the formation of the Education and Talent Supply Council, which itself stems from a Workforce and Economic Development Strategic Plan both organizations commissioned last year from Oxford Economics.
Understanding labor supply is only half of the battle.  The other half is understanding the specific labor needs of Lehigh Valley businesses.  The goal is to make sure the region is supplying the right number of workers, with the proper skills demanded by present and future companies.  This is no easy task, but we have now begun to put into place a process that we believe can be successful.

Monday, November 21, 2016

$400K IP funding will help train....

Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry recently awarded $4.6 million in Industry Partnership grants to fund 28 partnerships among 19 workforce development boards across the state.

What are Industry Partnerships (IPs) ???
IPs focus to bring together companies in the same industry sector to brainstorm innovative workforce skills needed to make their industry more competitive.  These formal meetings or forums allow regional businesses to discuss individual business needs, gaps they see in their industry and variety of issues not just worker training.  Discussions such as Wage gains, career advancement, entry-level employment and increased productivity are just a few ways that IPs provide a return on investment.

We are honored that the Lehigh Valley received $400K from PA Department of Labor and Industry.

• The Lehigh Valley Transportation, Warehousing and Logistics Industry Partnership received $200,000 for training and intermediary services for 115 participants in the logistics and transportation industry.
• The Lehigh Valley Diversified Manufacturing IP was awarded $200,000 for training and intermediary services for 138 participants in the advanced manufacturing Industry. 

These growing industry sectors in the Lehigh Valley are critical drivers of our economy, making up 17 percent of jobs in the region.

Industry Partnership resources give businesses in these targeted sectors the opportunity to train their current workforce, increase skills, improve productivity and allow our employers to remain profitable in a highly competitive marketplace.

Stay tuned!!  I will be updating you on the results of these investments into these valuable Lehigh Valley sectors.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc.

This week the nation is celebrating National Apprenticeships Week- November 14-20, 2016. The United States Department of Labor is celebrating the second year with 600+ events all over the nation. PA Governor Tom Wolf also added to the celebration a Commonwealth proclamation click here to see!

What is National Apprenticeship Week?

President Barack Obama proclaimed the week of November 2, 2015, as the first Annual National Apprenticeship Week, also referred to as NAW. Across the nation through over 300 events in 47 states, communities large and small recognized the important role Apprentices play in offering employers an opportunity to develop a highly skilled workforce to help grow their business and career seekers the chance to earn a salary while learning the skills necessary to succeed. 

There are many ways to join this National Apprenticeship Week Movement. Examples include:
  • Apprentice Graduations
  • Business Open Houses
  • High School Career Fairs
  • Apprenticeship Signing Days
  • Skills Competitions
  • Industry Roundtable Events
For more information check out the NAW website or email me for more ideas you can execute locally!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Do You Know Your Business Like You Know Your BFF?
Written by Guest Blogger:  Jeanine Villano-George, Co-Owner A&A Plumbing and Heating, LLC

Let me ask you this question…  and it might sound a little silly but …

Do you know your business like you know your BFF (Best Friend Forever)?  How well do you know your best friend?  Think about this for a moment; do you know your BFF’s favorite color, favorite drink, favorite restaurant … can you rattle that off pretty quickly?  How about if I asked you the same style of questions about your business, could you rattle off the answers with confidence and composure?  For example:  What are your quarterly gross sales?  What percentage of your business do you allow for community outreach?  How do you bring value to your customer base … What are you really good at?    

Do you know your business like a BFF?  Business relationships are like best friend relationships because they take time, work and investment to develop them and make them stronger.  When you meet a new person they are not your ‘best friend’ immediately, it takes time to foster that relationship and build trust before you can call him/her your BFF!  It takes time for you to trust each other.

Is your business your BFF?  Have you invested the time it takes to build that relationship between you and your business?  It might seem a little strange to think about your business as a relationship but believe me ladies and gentlemen the day that I realized that it is just like any other relationship and it takes time, belief and commitment to build a solid foundation was the day I realized that I am in the driver’s seat and in complete control of how my business succeeds.

Small business matters, for so many reasons, I believe we are and will continue to be the backbone of our great nation!  I believe that small business IS THE REASON we still feel we live in a nation of prosperity.  The ‘American Dream’ is still that…a dream, to many entrepreneurs like you and I who believe in Mom and Pop Shops and find value in building relationships with integrity, purpose and by using the Golden Rule as their guide!   When you know your business like your BFF and you are confident that your product or services can add value to someone else’s life you want to shout it from the rooftops, right?  There is no better contentment then realizing that you have enhanced someone’s life by offering your business and putting your reputation and name on the line.

KNOW YOUR BUSINESS LIKE YOUR BFF!  Know your strengths, opportunity areas and your worth to your community.  Shout it from the rooftops!!  This is what matters, YOUR business matters!  And I for one am forever grateful to be a part of a community of like-minded professionals who believe that relationship building is the key to small business success!

Friday, November 11, 2016

We honor all who served! #VeteransDay

Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc.

Yesterday the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc.. PA CareerLink® Lehigh Valley in partnership with Academics for Veterans (A’s for Vets) hosted the 2016 Veterans Employment and Education Fair.

Veterans and family members from across the Lehigh Valley attended the fair held at 555 Union Blvd in  Allentown.  This was an opportunity for veterans to meet with representatives face to face and discuss opportunities available.
Veterans and family members were able to:

  • Meet with recruiters from a variety of businesses 
  • Meet with representatives from higher education institutions in the Lehigh Valley
  • Network with other local veterans
  • Learn more about resources available

We were happy to host the following employers, high education and service providers
Employers.  We want to thank these organizations for hiring and inspiring our veterans.

  • B Braun 
  • C&S Wholesalers 
  • Cintas 
  • Continental Corp. 
  • Crayola 
  • Creative Kids Club 
  • Delta T Group 
  • Dempsey 
  • Diakon Lutheran Ministries 
  • Dixie-Georgia Pacific 
  • FedEx Ground –Breinigsville/Bethlehem 
  • Follett Ice 
  • Genco 
  • Jurin Roofing 
  • Kids Peace 
  • Kistler O’Brien 
  • Klover 
  • Lehigh Valley Health Network 
  • Lehigh Valley Phantoms 
  • MC2 
  • Millwood 
  • Muhlenberg College 
  • Nestle Purina 
  • PA State Liquor Control Board 
  • Phillips Pet 
  • Pitt Ohio 
  • RR Donnelley 
  • SSRS 
  • St. Luke’s Health Network 
  • Starbucks 
  • The Empire Company 
  • Tobyhanna Army Depot 
  • UPS 
  • Via of Lehigh Valley 

Educational Institutions

  • Cedar Crest College 
  • Moravian College 
  • DeSales University 
  • Muhlenberg College
  • Lehigh Carbon Community College 
  • Northampton Community College 
  • Lehigh Career & Technical Institute 
  • Penn State- Lehigh Valley 
  • McCann School of Business & Technology

Service Providers

  • Northampton Director of Veterans Affairs 
  • Lehigh Director of Veterans Affairs 
We look forward to more events that highlight organizations that are veteran and military friendly but most importantly finding employment for veterans. If you are interested in participating and helping our veterans and their family members, please contact me at

Monday, October 31, 2016


Nancy Dischinat, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc.

I recently read a blog that I just had to share. The United States has hired more than 154,000 permanent and temporary employees with disabilities. As some of you may know October is not only Breast Cancer Awareness month but it is also National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

    The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. 
Reflecting the important role disability plays in workforce diversity, this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) theme is “#InclusionWorks.” Observed each October, NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a diverse workforce inclusive of their skills and talents.  

To learn more please visit the US Department of Labor website.

If you know a job seeker or a company that is hiring please contact my office.
NANCY DISCHINATExecutive Director
610-841-1122  Fax: 610-437-3527

Friday, October 28, 2016

Need a toolkit?

Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc.
One of the many national organizations that the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board uses as a workforce resources is the National Skills Coalition. National Skills Coalition (NSC) is a broad-based coalition working toward a vision of an America that grows its economy by investing in its people so that every worker and every industry has the skills to compete and prosper.

National Skills Coalition was founded in 1998 as The Workforce Alliance in response to a series of federal policies that signaled the end of national investments in the skills of America’s workers at a time when skill gaps were growing in key U.S. industries.

More than 3,200 members, representing more than 1,400 organizations in over 25 states, comprise the broad-based membership of National Skills Coalition.

NSC just releases toolkits to advance a skills equity agenda!

NSC has created a series of toolkits to help states develop a range of policies designed to help states bridge their skills gap, help people train for in-demand occupations, and help businesses find the skilled workers they need to succeed.
The toolkits are part of NSC’s skills equity agenda – an effort to advance state policies that expand access to middle-skill training through policies on job-driven financial aid, SNAP E&T, stackable credentials, alignment, integrated education and training, and TANF E&T.

NCS also has state specific information that is not only informative but also serves as advocacy for programs specific to our region.  For more information on Industry Partnership please visit the PA site on the NSC website: Help Support Pennsylvania’s Industry Partnerships!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What is the top occupation in demand in LV?

Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc.

What is the top occupation in demand and top targeted industry here in the Lehigh Valley?
Healthcare and more specifically registered nurses are in demand.  It is no surprise since the Lehigh Valley has some of the best hospitals in the country. I quickly explore the demand here in the Lehigh Valley with the demand nationally.  Here is your September 2016 Lehigh Valley SnapShot.

If registered nurses are one of the highest occutpations in demand, it could make you wonder who employs the registered nurses?  Here is an example of RN employment setting nationally. 63% are employed by hospitals.
The United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics offer these stats on registered nurses.  The percentage of growth is 16% which according to them is growing faster than all other occupations. 

Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will occur for a number of reasons, including an increased emphasis on preventive care; growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for healthcare services from the baby-boom population, as they live longer and more active lives. Cited from website-

Are you interested in hearing more about another industry sector or occupation in demand?  Email me your suggestions to me at

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

We Are? .....WORK FORCE!

Most Penn Staters would have answered the question...WE ARE? with....PENN STATE!! 
And although I enjoyed my time in Happy Valley and the Creamery Ice Cream is delicious, I was not there for football. I was at Penn State to attend the 2016 PA Workforce Development Symposium.

The PA Workforce Development Association (PWDA) serves as the voice of the Pennsylvania workforce development system and a clearinghouse for workforce development information statewide. PWDA develops and provides professional training to local workforce development boards while continuing proactive advocacy efforts on behalf of the workforce development system.

I traveled to Center County with our collaborative partner The Chamber. Michelle Griffin Young, EVP of Government and External Affairs and I presented an open discussion about "Employer Engagement: Being Strategic"

Engaging employers is an important strategy for all local workforce development boards to align training and programs with employer needs.  The public workforce system has sought to engage employers for several decades, and WIOA strongly emphasizes the importance of partnering with employers.  Despite this push for workforce organizations to be more responsive to the industries that might hire program graduates, workforce systems and organizations often struggle with how to effectively engage employers and build deeper partnerships.  We represented the state largest regional Chamber and a highly-engaged local board with an active employer community to offer some practical strategies that will help you develop long-term, deep relationships with your employers through a well-developed strategy.

This two day conference was bursting with various state and regional experts sharing their best practices to improve our Pennsylvania workforce.
Many topics were discussed but some of the highlights were: 

  • Apprenticeship:  Models in Practice

Successful apprenticeship programs are aligned with sector strategies, industry partnerships and other investments to meet the needs of the business community

  • Industry Partnership Roundtable 

Local board staff, intermediaries, partners and members of the state’s industry partner‐ ships will convene to discuss emerging issues involving Healthcare, Advanced Manufacturing, Agriculture and Connecting to Apprenticeship Work

  • JOBS1st Economic Development Best Practices

WIOA explicitly recognizes the need for the coordination of economic development and workforce programs. The commonwealth’s 10   established regions have developed their first regional WIOA plans and have worked together under the JOBS1st grants.

If you are interested in attending this conference next year please please contact my office.
Phone 610-841-1122  Fax: 610-437-3527 Email: or visit the PDWA website

Some photos from our presentation.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New Opportunities Job Fair

Please join us on October 5, 2016 for a special job fair hosted by the PA CareerLink LV.  This is an opportunity to help job seekers gain information, knowledge and power to re-enter the workforce after experiencing barriers to employment.  As a business community, we need your help to speak with this population of job seekers in order to offer them insight into your industry and perhaps offer them employment. 

If your business is hiring please attend the NEW OPPORTUNITIES Job Fair hosted by LVWDB/PA CareerLink LV.  This job fair focuses on job seekers reentering the workforce, including ex-offenders.

Job seekers will participate in a full day workshop on September 28th in order to prepare for the 10/5/16 Job Fair held 1:00 -4:00 pm.  This workshop will help the individuals participate in mock interviews, assistance with resumes and cover letters and much more.
Employers will have job seekers at your table that are prepared and ready! What a great idea right?

As you know The Chamber and Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board/PA CareerLink LV work hand in hand to tackle workforce development issues in the Lehigh Valley. 
Please forward this information to the appropriate recruiting or human resource representative in your organization.

Please visit this website for more information and then contact Mick O'Hearn.

Any questions please contact me directly or Mick O’Hearn at PA CareerLink LV.

Mick O’Hearn
Business Services Manager
PA CareerLink® Lehigh Valley
555 Union Boulevard
Allentown, PA 18109
Office: 610-841-1171
Fax: 610-434-4122