HARRISBURG, PAJune 13, 2024 − Governor Josh Shapiro just announced $5 million in grant funding to expand registered apprenticeship programs across our Commonwealth. This is a major WIN for the trades and our future generations! This initiative is right up my alley, being a firsthand example of getting tools into young folks’ hands and providing them with vocational training, apprenticeships, and seeing the opportunities it can provide.

In my early days, I decided to choose a path that is beginning to feel drastically less conventional than attending college. I learned the plumbing trade from the ground up and spent over 40 years as a Union Plumber, eventually serving as business manager of the largest Plumber’s Union in Pennsylvania, our Local 690. And while my journey was not without its challenges, the decision to join the trades has proven to be one of the best choices I’ve made. I began as an apprentice, earning while learning, and I can confidently say that apprenticeships are invaluable to our workforce and a necessity to maintain our trades.

Although vocational programs are scarcer than when I was coming up, I’ve been happy to see programs that encourage our young folks to pursue a career in the trades are still active. For example, my many exciting visits to Delaware County Intermediate Units School of Construction Technology in our 9th Senate district always gives me confidence that we are properly training the next generation of tradespeople. DCIU is doing an amazing job teaching HVAC, Plumbing, Welding, Carpentry, Electrical and so many more building trade programs that are setting our youth up for a successful career after graduation. Programs like these are a real game-changer for young people, sparking their curiosity and helping them start their career journey early on. These programs work hand-in-hand with apprenticeships, equipping our youth with the know-how and skills they need for a rewarding career in the trades.

The Department of Labor & Industry, under Governor Shapiro’s leadership, has already supported the creation of more than 40 new registered apprenticeship programs in Pennsylvania. These programs are now serving 15,540 registered apprentices and continue to expand into new industry sectors. Apprenticeship programs have been a real game-changer for the building trades, and it’s awesome to see the dedication to making these opportunities even more accessible. Plus, let’s not forget the big perk – you get to earn a real income while you’re learning on the job. This isn’t just a bonus – it’s a necessary financial benefit that can make a huge difference in people’s lives.

In the Governor’s press release announcing the $5 million in grant funding, he shared that “The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that apprentices earn a starting wage of $80,000 per year after graduation and are on track to earn $300,000 more over their careers compared to workers who do not graduate from an apprenticeship program.” And that, my friends, is the kind of opportunity that will absolutely change lives.

With this grant funding we can continue to invest in our workforce, our future, and our Commonwealth giving everyone the opportunity to explore their career options and make the choice that’s right for them – be it college, trade school, or another path. After all, the strength of our Commonwealth lies in the hands of the hardworking folks who are building it.

Original Press Release Here: Shapiro Administration Announces $5 Million in Grant Funding Available to Expand Registered Apprenticeship Programs Across PA