Gov. Tom Corbett Looks To Link Programs That Help Job Seekers Find Work

Lancaster Intelligencer Journal

To Tom Corbett, it’s all pretty simple.

Why fund two programs with the same mission — to find people jobs — when you can fund one?

That was the message the Republican governor delivered Wednesday after touring the Lancaster County PA CareerLink office.

Corbett unveiled a cost-saving plan to integrate two entities that try to place workers in jobs: welfare-to-work Employment Advancement and Retention Network centers and the CareerLink centers that help laid-off workers and other adults.

The goal of merging the programs, Corbett said, is to deliver services to unemployed residents in a more efficient and effective way.

“In many cases job seekers are going to both programs seeking services in an effort to get a job, creating duplicate administrative and operational responsibilities for the state,” he said.

There are about 50 EARN centers that receive funding through the Department of Public Welfare and about 65 CareerLink centers funded by the Department of Labor and Industry.

The result is a patchwork of uneven service, Corbett said.

Moving forward, the governor hopes to use Lancaster County as an example of how other counties can combine the job training and employment programs offered by the two centers.

The county is already at an advantage because both centers are located under the same roof at Liberty Place in Lancaster city.


Flanked by members of his cabinet and local lawmakers, Corbett was followed Scott Sheely, the Workforce Investment Board’s executive director, through the facility.

Sheely told Corbett that there are about 80 to 100 manufacturing jobs waiting to be filled in the county, but arming applicants with the necessary skills is a challenge.

“We’re doing our best, but there is a huge skills gap when it comes to math and technology,” he said.

But with state funding cuts over the past several years, there has been more emphasis on personal responsibility when it comes to the pursuit of training and employment, Sheely said.

“This training is something they need to take seriously and work at,” he told Corbett.

Pequea Township resident Pat Rendler shared her story with Corbett during his visit to the center.

In a brief exchange between the two, Rendler told the governor that she has been taking technology classes through CareerLink to help her land a full-time customer service position.

Rendler recently scored a part-time job at Weis Markets and is hopeful her new training will help her get something a little more permanent.

“That’s what this is all about,” Sheely said.

Corbett said the Lancaster County office will serve as a pilot program as his administration looks for ways to integrate the two centers across the Commonwealth.

The move to integrate statewide would happen in five phases, culminating in 2015. Labor and Industry Deputy Secretary Michelle Staton said the integration would be uniquely tailored to fit each local area.

“Resources are limited and the only way we can get things accomplished is by pulling together,” Staton said.

Pulling together may mean cutting the size of the centers’ staff.

“Some positions could be eliminated if we find we can deliver the needs of the people with less,” Corbett said.


Although Corbett was in town to announce the integration project, he took time to answer a few questions about other topics that have been getting a lot of attention.

Speaking to reporters, Corbett said he knows his decision to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery may have burnt some bridges with state legislators.

Corbett’s decision last Friday to tentatively accept a 20- to 30-year deal with Camelot Global Services to take over management of the $3.5 billion lottery provoked several lawmakers to question his motives.

Corbett said the move was simple: to generate more money for programs that benefit older Pennsylvanians.

“This is about protecting the seniors down the road; growth of the senior citizen population in the next 20 years is quite measurable and we don’t believe that the current growth of the lottery can keep up,” he said.

In addition to the controversy surrounding the lottery deal, the governor’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse investigation has come under fire by critics.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane —who was sworn in this week — ran hard on the idea that she will fully vet the work of Corbett’s staff, with an eye on whether the nearly three-year lag from initial report to arrest was appropriate.

Corbett said Wednesday that he is confident that any fair look back on his time as the state’s top prosecutor will show the investigation was not delayed for political reasons.

The governor said he was not concerned about Kane’s probe because he did not do anything “criminal” when he oversaw the case. He said that his office believed that bringing a case against a prominent figure like Sandusky with only one witness would have been a big risk.

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