Bucks County is the recipient of a $1.7 million federal grant for new job training, the Bucks County Workforce Development Board announced yesterday during a press conference at the PA CareerLink.
Bucks lost about 1,000 retail jobs in the last year because of downsizing, displacing workers through no fault of their own. BCWDB Executive Director John Flanagan says those laid off employees have a new chance to refocus their efforts into newly created jobs.
“You talk about all these open positions,” Flanagan said. “And for the first time in a long time that I can remember as an adult, there’s more job opportunities than people to fill them.”
Bucks Commissioner Rob Loughery says the federal funds come thanks to long term efforts between local and county officials, as well as Bucks County’s federal representative in the House, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick.
“It’s great to have Brian representing us in Congress and to be an advocate for Bucks County,” Loughery expressed. “This is big money. It’s going to do a lot of good to help us get employers the employees they need, and more importantly get employees family sustaining jobs.”
Fitzpatrick believes right now is the time to strike on helping shape a changing workforce because of current economic growth.
“We must provide our employers, our workers, and our students with the resources to thrive and succeed,” Fitzpatrick said. “There’s no better time than right now, with our economy going from 1.6% (GDP growth) for a long time, to 2.7% last year, to 4.2% last quarter.”
About $1.2 million will go directly towards training workers for new jobs, such as programs at Bucks County Community College. The remaining $500,000 will go be invested in CareerLink and the BCWDB to grow their ability to help people find new jobs and careers.
“Here in Bucks and Montgomery County, as is the case around the nation, substantive training and apprenticeship programs are integral to good paying jobs,” Fitzpatrick said. “This is especially important as we witness many traditionally retail job opportunities disappear.”