FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 10, 2018  

Wolf Administration Highlights Investments in Apprenticeships During Visit to Steamfitters Local 449 

Harmony, PA – Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jerry Oleksiak today toured the Steamfitters Local Union 449’s Technology Center in Harmony, Butler County and discussed Governor Tom Wolf’s PAsmart initiative to increase job and skills training for Pennsylvania workers and students.  

“We must make the strategic investments in education and training programs that create the skilled talent pipeline employers require to succeed and thrive,” said Secretary Oleksiak. “Growing and expanding apprenticeship and training programs provides employers with well-trained workers while helping job seekers gain the valuable skills they need to obtain family-sustaining jobs.” 

Secretary Oleksiak toured Local 449’s new, $18.5 million, state-of-the-art training facility to learn about its recently expanded apprenticeship programs. Local 449 embarked on an expansion project, in part, to help train new pipe welders for the natural gas industry. Oleksiak also met with nearly 60 apprentices as they developed skills in process piping, welding, HVAC, and rigging. 

During his visit, Oleksiak discussed the ways in which Governor Wolf has made employability and workforce training including career and technical education, STEM, and computer science, a hallmark of his Administration. In his 2018-19 budget, the governor proposed PAsmart as a new workforce development initiative to improve coordination and services across commonwealth agencies. 

PAsmart would invest an additional $7 million in apprenticeship programs, with the goal of doubling the number of registered apprentices in the commonwealth by 2025. The Wolf Administration established the Apprenticeship and Training Office (ATO) in 2016 to support and expand registered apprenticeship programs statewide. Since the ATO launched, 92 new apprenticeship programs have been created with 2,917 new apprentices, bringing the total number of registered programs to 759 and the total number of registered apprentices to 15,199 statewide.  

“We built our new 75,000 square-foot facility to help increase our training capacity and to expand our existing apprenticeship program, which trains workers for free,” said Steamfitters Local Union 449 Business Manager Ken Broadbent. “Our goal is to produce the most educated, qualified and productive workers to help meet local employer demand, including providing workers for the new Shell ethane cracker plant in southwestern Pennsylvania.”   

Steamfitters Local Union 449 was established in 1913. They represent nearly 2,700 union-trained steamfitters and are affiliated with the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada. Members are highly trained craftsmen who fabricate, install and service piping systems.  

For more information about pursuing an education and career in Pennsylvania at any stage of life, visit PAsmart.  

MEDIA CONTACTS: Theresa Elliott or Penny Ickes, 717-787-7530 or dlipress@pa.gov

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