One of the top priorities for Pennsylvania and Cumberland County, the fastest growing county in the State, should be job creation. Residents of the county want and need full-time challenging positions that provide the opportunity to advance and ensure that families have a sustainable income.
A living wage is a major concern for many members of our community, the State and the nation. Many of our neighbors work hard every day and pay taxes but find themselves unable to meet their family’s basic needs or to get ahead. They cannot find decent housing that is affordable, and they need help feeding their families; they may not have access to affordable childcare, transportation or healthcare.
Yet many businesses are having trouble finding employees to fill their jobs. Our workforce needs the skills to be productive in today’s changing economy. Employers need workers who are prepared to learn new skills and possess a strong basic education that is required for every kind of work and training.
Linking jobs and people
More should be done to bring together employers and those who are searching for employment. I am committed to working both with the community’s public and private organizations to find solutions to the problems faced by those looking for work and those employers who wish to grow their businesses. Employers are interested in building a skilled workforce; employees need to learn about what skills are needed to perform those duties and how they can be developed. This requires making information available and facilitating discussion between employers and potential employees.
Investment in basic education and technical and vocational education is key. Whenever possible, high schools and potential employers should work together to ensure graduates are job-ready. As much as possible, programs should include opportunities for internships, apprenticeships and mentorship, and graduation should include both a diploma and a certificate of achievement in an appropriate field.
Removing Barriers to Work
There are many barriers to work for people with low incomes and few resources. Often affordable housing is located far from employers, and public transportation is not available. And without affordable day care it can cost more than an employee can bring home in his or her paycheck. As a community we need to support the transition into the workforce for people of limited means. and we need to provide resources and support programs for families that enable them to work their way out of poverty and into the middle class. Businesses are making record profits, but wages aren’t growing. This must be addressed to achieve fairness and equity in our communities.