WDB Viewpoints

WDB Viewpoints highlight some of the most pressing local, state, and national trends, issues and policy challenges concerning all stakeholders in the workforce development system.

CPWDC publishes WDB Viewpoints to outline background information on a particular matter, provide an analysis, clarify the WDB’s position and make recommendations to policy makers, the media and the general public.

CPWDC draws on the collective expertise of WDB members and staff and on our cumulative experiences to present WDB viewpoints that will further the discussion on these issues and help identify best practices and innovative initiatives for advancing the workforce development system.

Below are brief descriptions of and links to recent WDB Viewpoints.

Unemployment Compensation

In 2009, over 57,000 initial claims for unemployment compensation were filed in Central Pennsylvania. As the number of unemployed has grown and businesses have scaled back or closed, the average length of time to find new employment has increased. With state and federal extensions, the unemployment compensation benefit period has been extended. Regarding the current status of unemployment compensation, the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board:

  • Understands and defends the importance of unemployment compensation as a time-limited system to support the financial needs of workers negatively affected by layoffs, plant closures or other reductions in force activities.
  • Stresses that the unemployment compensation benefit period should be of appropriate length, given the economic conditions and job availability of the time, to ensure that individuals can adequately search and prepare (including but not limited to obtaining additional skills training) for re-employment that will provide wages equal to or greater than their previous employment
  • Has heard from regional employers about the potential disconnect between companies that are seeking skilled workers with previous work experience to fill existing or emerging vacancies and a labor pool limited by skilled unemployed individuals who are not actively engaged in job search during their benefit period.
  • Recognizes that without state or federal mandates for active engagement with the PA CareerLink® system, individuals receiving unemployment compensation may not be fully utilizing job preparation, training and labor exchange services during their benefit period. Requiring the benefit period to include engagement with the PA CareerLink® will likely result in workers finding jobs for which they are better suited, more productive and able to earn more comparable re-employment wages.
  • Acknowledges the efforts of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to increase the number of claimants being called to participate in the Profile ReEmployment Program (PREP) sessions or added information sessions for claimants not necessarily expected to exhaust their benefits.
  • Supports all efforts to develop a consistent, but broad outreach strategy for engaging more claimants before benefit exhaustion with a focus on those most ready to find re-employment with the ultimate goal of reducing the time necessary for individuals to collect unemployment benefits.
  • Encourages the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to assess the structure of the current unemployment compensation system to consider methods to:
    • Transform a passive approach to unemployment compensation into an active approach that incentivizes job skill development;
    • Encourage more active participation in PA CareerLink® services regardless of the likelihood and estimated time needed to find employment, the benefit rate based on qualifying wages and length of the benefit period;
    • Improve incentives for rapid reemployment (e.g. some portion of benefits continue if employment is secured within a fraction of the benefit period); and
    • Enhance the resources to support fraud enforcement.

In September 2010, the Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry released a Profile of Pennsylvania’s Unemployed People to illustrate the demographic and occupational characteristics of those individuals who have been impacted by the recession.  Click here to view the profile.

Tolling of I-80

In 2008, the Central Pennsylvania WDB conducted extensive research and published a report regarding the economic and workforce impacts of tolling Interstate 80. Based on the potential to negatively impact Central Pennsylvania businesses and workers, the WDB opposes Interstate 80 tolling.

Graduation Competency Assessments

In May 2008, the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board and the Local Elected Officials Board adopted the Graduation Competency Assessment Resolution. The Resolution supported the State Board of Education’s proposal to change Pennsylvania’s high school graduation requirements and establish a consistent statewide measurement of the minimum knowledge and skills that a public high school diploma signifies, coupled with a comprehensive system of supports for students and districts. From a workforce perspective, the Graduation Competency Assessments focus on providing quality education to all students regardless of the district in which they learned and restore confidence in the high school diploma as a measure of academic preparation for success in both employment and post secondary education. On January 9, 2010, the final regulations for Pennsylvania’s Graduation Competency Assessments, known as the Keystone Exams, were published as final and effective.

Please check back for periodic updates.