Smith Supports Measure to Put Unemployed Back to Work
Pennsylvania House Speaker Sam Smith (R-Jefferson, Indiana, Armstrong) said today he strongly supports legislation currently making its way through the General Assembly that would create a program to match job-seekers to employment opportunities.
The initiative, known as the Keystone Works Program, would match those currently receiving unemployment compensation (UC) benefits with businesses willing to provide on-the-job training. The employer would provide the claimant with up to 24 hours of unpaid weekly training for a maximum of eight weeks. At the conclusion of this period, the business must consider the person for employment, but would not be required to hire the claimant.
“This program simply aims to match good workers with good paying jobs,” Smith said. “There are lots of people out there looking for a decent-paying job to support their family and the key to this program is really in the training component. It gives people a solid opportunity to gain valuable skills as they move toward permanent employment.”
The Department of Labor and Industry will match claimants with businesses who are willing to provide training and meet specific needs for current job openings in High Priority Occupations. High Priority Occupations are jobs which are in demand by employers, and are listed annually by the Department to specific industry clusters where the skill level required will provide family-sustaining wages.
Smith said this program is modeled after a successful initiative in Georgia, known as “Georgia Works.” House Bill 1539 has been approved by the House of Representatives and currently awaits action in the Senate. The measure has the support of Gov. Corbett.
If enacted, the Department of Labor and Industry would create the necessary guidelines for the Keystone Works Program and provide notice to businesses and UC claimants regarding eligibility for and participation in the program. The claimants’ remaining UC account balance would provide the compensation during the training weeks
“Workforce development has always been a focus of state government,” Smith said. “I believe the Keystone Works Program will help us move toward our goal of ensuring there are skilled workers ready for the employers who need them. I look forward to its enactment.”
State Representative Sam Smith
66th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives