Governor Tom Wolf made a stop in Blair County to discuss workforce training and development.
The governor visited the Appvion Paper Mill in Roaring Spring and met with management and employees about training and development. The discussion revolved around teaching a broad base of skills while also specializing workers within their industry.
Last year, the Wolf Administration launched the Apprenticeship and Training Office within the Department of Labor. Since then, workers have been developing on the job skills that will not only help them with their current position, but could translate to the next opportunity.
Wolf said, “Folks are learning generalized skills but they are also learning how those skills apply to this specific industry and that’s what I think is the strength of the apprenticeship approach.”
The governor says apprenticeship programs are helping decrease turnover rates while providing opportunities for growth and wage increases.
He explained, “What we need to do is make sure we have the skills for that 21st century economy whether companies like Appvion still make things but do a lot of distribution and distribute and sell into the service market.”
Appvion Mill Manager Phillip Pack says finding workers to fill highly technical skill positions at the company is difficult. He says the workforce development programs helps solve that issue with existing employees.
Pack explained, “We struggle getting qualified individuals in here to do those jobs. So again, we’ve become very reliant on our our programs to develop those talents from within and we’ve had some real successes with that.”
At Appvion, Pack says they use veteran workers to train and guide younger employees and apprentices, something he believes is a great asset.
He said, “Having these craftsmen here that are not only very skilled craftsman but also understand the equipment and how it works. There is only one way to get that and that’s on the job training. So yeah, it’s a huge piece.”
Afterwards, the governor made stops in Pittsburgh and Saxonburg.