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Governor Directs Investment Council, L&I to Carry Out Federal Workforce Act

Gov. Tom Ridge has directed his Human Resources Investment Council and the Department of Labor and Industry to carry out the provisions of the recently enacted Federal Workforce Investment Act of 1998.

In a letter to U.S. Labor Secretary Alexis Herman a copy of which was delivered to the HRIC’s board of directors at a meeting at Pennsylvania College of Technology Ridge asked the HRIC to serve as the “workforce investment board” described in the new law, responsible for the overall policy coordination and development of the five-year unified plan for workforce investment. Labor and Industry was designated by the governor as the lead agency for implementing the act.

In his letter to Herman, Ridge said that, under the auspices of the HRIC, “Labor and Industry will coordinate the delivery of workforce-development products and services with other state agencies, ensuring a seamless statewide workforce-development system.”

Ridge also committed the Commonwealth to implementing the act by July 1, 1999, one year ahead of the federal deadline.

“The new federal statute tracks perfectly with Pennsylvania’s approach to workforce and economic development,” said William J. Hudson, vice chairman of AMP Inc. and chairman of the HRIC. “As a result, Pennsylvania is well-positioned to implement the Workforce Investment Act on this aggressive schedule making the state a national leader in integrating its workforce- and economic-development agendas.”

The Workforce Investment Act rewrites current federal statutes governing programs of job training, adult education and literacy, and vocational rehabilitation to make them more streamlined and flexible.

The act also codifies Pennsylvania’s efforts already under way to implement the new “one-stop” career development marketplace system. These “one-stop” centers, to be named Team Pennsylvania Career Link, will seamlessly deliver services that bring together job seekers, employers, training providers and other key private- and public-sector partners in workforce and economic development. The first two Team Pennsylvania Career Link centers are expected to open by the end of this month.

Established as part of Team Pennsylvania by an executive order signed by Ridge in December, the HRIC works to foster a dynamic, world-class workforce in which Pennsylvanians and employers possess the knowledge and skills to succeed and excel in a highly competitive and rapidly changing world.

The HRIC oversees the integration of Pennsylvania’s job-training programs now run by five state agencies. The HRIC has been charged by Ridge to institute performance standards for placing people in jobs, to cut bureaucratic red tape to make job training more user-friendly and to integrate the state’s job-training strategy with the Ridge Administration’s economic-development strategy.

Labor and Industry Secretary Johnny Butler serves as HRIC vice chairman and is joined on the HRIC by the secretaries of Community and Economic Development, Education, Public Welfare, and Aging. The HRIC also includes 20 members with backgrounds in business, government, education, community-based organizations and organized labor.

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