Pennsylvania lawmakers considering the fiscal year 2021-22 budget are tasked with a unique challenge as they determine how to best leverage federal funds to grow Pennsylvania’s economy. One priority should be getting Pennsylvanians back to work.
Some experts – like David Deming, professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School – believe community colleges could be the answer. In an article in the New York Times, Deming made a strong case for funding these educational cornerstones last year, writing, “…community college job training programs substantially increase participants’ earnings, and because tuition costs are relatively low, they typically provide a good return on public investment.”
Here in Pennsylvania, the affordable career-focused workforce training courses offered by community colleges – which allow displaced workers to retrain or upskill for jobs that are in-demand now – are essential to the Commonwealth’s economic recovery. In 2019-20, community colleges partnered with 1,811 local employers across the Commonwealth to provide $10.1M of customized training for more than 75,000 Pennsylvania workers, and trained another 12,705 through partnerships with WEDNetPA.