$500,000 program to invigorate IT sector in Chester County
August 25, 2018
Exton >> The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry and Department of Community and Economic Development have announced a $500,000 award to the Southeast Pennsylvania Regional Workforce Developments Boards, which includes Chester County, and several nearby counties. The funding will be used to address critical staffing needs within the region’s information technology (IT) sector. Tech has been one of the top growth sectors in the six-county region, accounting for approximately 25 percent of net job growth since 2000, with growing gaps between demand and skilled workforce.
The Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC), a private non-profit, non-governmental agency headquartered in Chester County, was selected to administer the grant project in collaboration with the Chester County Workforce Development Board, which will be the fiscal agent and grantee. The grant is a component of the Wolf Administration’s funding support for incumbent worker training to companies across the Commonwealth.
“Our region’s companies face two major challenges in the tech sector,” says Marybeth DiVincenzo, Senior Vice President, CCEDC. “There is a significant shortage of available skilled workers for new tech jobs. There’s also a need to upgrade existing employees to enable workers to maintain their jobs and for companies to achieve their business goals and objectives related to technology.”
CCEDC is the parent company for the Innovative Technology Action Group, known as ITAG, which will play a pivotal role in managing the grant program. “ITAG works with employers in our six-county region on addressing the reskilling crisis in technology,” says DiVincenzo. “CCEDC/ITAG, along with our partners from the region’s workforce development boards, economic development and education, work together to identify and provide collective solutions for these business and worker challenges.”
ITAG’s annual survey revealed that technology across all industries has remained the area’s highest priority, with upgrading the skills of the existing workforce as most critical. In the past three years, the demand for technology training far exceeded the available grant support through partnership.
“This investment of Rapid Response funds into Southeast PA is a great indicator that the Commonwealth understands the importance of the technology sector to this region and the entire state,” says Pat Bokovitz, Director of the Chester County Workforce Development Board. “The Chester County Workforce Development Board is again excited to be partnering with the Chester County Economic Development Council and the ITAG initiative. In addition, a significant program like this one couldn’t happen without the regional collaboration that we have in Southeast PA – Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Workforce Development Boards.”
Previous Grant funding from the Commonwealth has accounted for significant improvement in the region over the past 10 years:
· More than 2,800 workers have been trained through ITAG alone.
· Many companies contribute as much as 50 percent of the training grant award back to the partnership to bolster the program’s future.
· In the past three years, more than 128 companies have volunteered time and resources to educating the current tech workforce and developing future tech workforce through initiatives like Techies’ Day, Tech 360 and Girls Exploring Tomorrow’s Technology.
· Almost 7,000 students and 350 professionals benefitted from these events.
“Without the ability to reskill their current workers, companies large and small face critical impacts to their client business services, new corporate processes and business expansions,” says DiVincenzo. “With help from this grant, we will not only be able to continue to address the crisis of reskilling tech workers and our employers, we will have the opportunity to continue to advance the work of this regional public/private partnership.”
The Chester County Economic Development Council is a private, non-profit economic development organization promoting smart growth in Chester County and the surrounding region for more than 50 years. The CCEDC provides proven financing solutions, cultivates workforce talent, leverages business partnerships, and fosters entrepreneurial collaboration. With the support of the private and public sectors, CCEDC initiates, implements and innovates programs that improve the business community and enhance the quality of life in Chester County. For more information, visit https://ccedcpa.com/