HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) has focused on training workers, helping working families, and creating innovative, customer-driven initiatives throughout 2016.
"This year I traveled across the commonwealth on a 'Jobs that Pay' tour to hear from workers and business owners, and to learn about the opportunities available to job seekers in different regions of our commonwealth," said Secretary Kathy Manderino. "These tours also give me the opportunity to share our department's achievements and vision for the future."
In 2016, the Department of Labor & Industry emphasized its efforts for both job seekers and employers. Accomplishments included strengthened partnerships, collaboration, communication and cost-savings across all areas of the department. Here are some of the greatest achievements:
- Training Pennsylvania's Workforce: L&I funded $4.6 million in Industry Partnership grants to 28 partnerships among 19 local workforce development boards that will train more than 5,000 workers in the state. Workforce development efforts were strengthened by U.S. Department of Labor grants, including $1.5 million to fund the Pennsylvania's Apprenticeship Initiative; and $4 million in Strategic Innovation grants that will benefit hundreds of individuals through funding 14 programs that encourage creativity and innovation under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Combined State Plan.
- Reforming Unemployment Compensation: The department worked with Governor Wolf and the state legislature to reform the unemployment compensation program to allow 45,000 more unemployed Pennsylvanians to receive unemployment benefits and find employment.
- Developing a Four-Year Workforce Development Plan: L&I led the creation of the 2016 State Plan, collaborating with nine state agencies and multiple public and private sector partners to craft a plan that was submitted in March and approved by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) in September. This living document is working to help all Pennsylvanians find career paths that lead to jobs that pay.
- Cost-Cutting and Innovation: GO-TIME initiatives led the way for realizing cost-effective improvements and resulted in $1,227,131 in savings from the department. These efforts included closing a SWIF warehouse that was being leased for $20,000 a year and used for storing records that had not been reviewed in years. The department also launched its employee engagement tool, IdeaCatcher, which allows employees to submit suggestions for cost savings and ideas for operations improvements to executive staff.
Contributions discovered through auditing for misclassified workers reached an all-time high of $9.8 million for the state fiscal year and the State Information Data Exchange System (SIDES) generated $289,000 in savings. Furthermore, the Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Claims Management Division completed an initiative to be more cost-effective and customer service-friendly, saving taxpayers an estimated $659,853.
- Studying Paid and Family Leave: The department was one of only six states/cities awarded $250,000 from USDOL's Women's Bureau to study paid family leave models and programs in 2016. The grant was to complete a comprehensive study and analysis of the impact to businesses and workers of the various types/models of paid family leave and medical leave plans.
These achievements are the result of a broader focus on better serving the department's customers – the workers and employers of Pennsylvania. The Department of Labor & Industry will continue to improve and optimize its services into 2017, with the goals of jobs that pay for all and safeguarding the state's workforce and employers.
MEDIA CONTACT: Sara Goulet, 717-787-7530
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry