– Rep. Stephenie Scialabba (R-Butler) hosted a policy hearing today with members of the House Republican Policy Committee and the public, which focused on how to develop our workforce to meet the needs of Pennsylvania employers and consumers.
“In order for Pennsylvania to be competitive against surrounding states, we must be leaders of innovation,” said Scialabba. “The success of small businesses is a critical component of our economy, and it starts with addressing the workforce shortages plaguing our employers.”
Held at the Cranberry Township Municipal Building in Cranberry, the policy hearing’s testifiers were:
Stacy Hepinger, president and CEO, Right at Home.
Filippo Lombardo, general manager, Domenico’s Ristorante.
Carrie Amann, executive director, PA Workforce Development Association.
Jeff Nobers, executive director, Builders Guild of Western PA and Pittsburgh Works Together.
Tom Bender, council representative, Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters.
Kenny Broadbent, business manager, Pittsburgh Steamfitters Local Union 449.
While Nobers believes that fixing this issue is complex in nature, he suggested some remedies to create more and varied opportunities, balance environmental stewardship and economic growth, implement realistic and consistent regulation and policy, and provide incentives to people to stay in or relocate to Pennsylvania.
“We continue to lose population across our state,” said Nobers. “We are approaching, if not already at, a crisis level. Two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s counties lost population from 2010 to 2020, a combination of residents moving away and deaths outnumbering births – an issue that especially affects many of our counties in southwestern Pennsylvania.”
Lombardo said his restaurant business has exhausted every option to bring in new staff to no avail.
“We cannot remain open seven days because it is taxing to the staff we have,” said Lombardo. “The customers are out there, but we just do not have the staff to handle the business. Our family has been in this industry for over 50 years.”
Hepinger mentioned that while she considers her job of providing at-home care rewarding, the current business climate is a major obstacle in providing the best care to those who need it.
“When the opportunity presented itself to become the owner of the agency that I love, I knew that working in this industry was more than just a career,” said Hepinger. “It was truly a calling. It is important work that these agencies do, and we need the help of leaders like you to effect change to make sure that we can continue to improve the quality of life for those we serve.”
As head of the PA Workforce Development Association, Amann proposed that making employment and workforce data available to local agencies and stakeholders in real time will improve transparency and openness in government.
“By accessing existing data, local workforce development boards can more efficiently address gaps in the service delivery system,” said Amann.
“Today’s hearing highlighted a major obstacle for Pennsylvania businesses: that we are facing an ever-growing workforce shortage,” said Kail. “Pennsylvania has laid the groundwork to develop our workforce, but it is clear more has to be done. We are motivated and ready to be part of the solution to help our businesses and economy grow.”
“I would like to thank everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to join us for this critical discussion,” said Scialabba. “We heard a lot of great feedback today that we can use to spark positive change in our Commonwealth.”
To view the full hearing, view the video box below.