As Unemployment Pay Ends, Area Job Resource Opens

By Emily Scott, Public News Service
for The Post

HARRISBURG PA – Pennsylvania will launch an online job-training program Saturday (Aug. 14, 2021) that’s focused on helping state residents get the expertise they need to find a new career.

SkillUp PA will offer education in career fields such as accounting, finance, human resources, information technology, and others. The initiative comes as pandemic-related federal unemployment benefits are expected to end Sept. 4 (Saturday).

For people without access to the Internet or a computer, the SkillUp system also will be available at state-operated PA CareerLink offices. They’re located in Norristown, 1430 DeKalb St., for Montgomery County; in Reading, 1920 Kutztown Road Ste. F for Berks County; and in Exton, 479 Thomas Jones Way Ste. 500 for Chester County.

Sheila Ireland, deputy secretary for workforce development at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, said the courses are critical for Pennsylvanians to be competitive in the current employment market.

“If you look at the world of work and the way the labor market has changed, specifically because of the pandemic, there’s a real need for digital skills no matter what job you have,” Ireland observed. “You no longer can be a cashier or parking attendant, and not have some digital literacy.”

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate as of June was 6.9 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the month prior. The national rate was 5.9 percent.

SkillUp PA, which will operate through the state-managed employment website PA CareerLink, provides help with searching for jobs and resume assistance. It’s modeled on a platform that’s been working in Lancaster County since 2017. Valerie Hatfield, strategic innovation officer for the county Workforce Development Board, said she is excited to see the state grow SkillUp as a free resource.

“We’re very conscious of how much education costs these days, so we’re really encouraging people to get the education that’s needed for the job they want,” Hatfield explained. “But the fact that this platform is free to everybody really takes away that financial barrier for people.”

PA CareerLink is offering job fairs, open houses, and employer talks, at Thursday (Aug. 12) at its offices across the state.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters via Unsplash, used under license