Walmart is expanding its Associate-to-Driver training program to employees in the Reading, Allentown, Lebanon and Bethlehem areas.
Walmart said associates who work at a store within a 50-mile radius of Pottsville, where it has a hiring transportation office, are eligible to apply for its 12-week program to become a tractor-trailer driver.
Since the program was announced last year, Walmart has trained 56 associates from various supply chain roles, the company said.
“Walmart associates know the crucial role our Private Fleet of more than 13,000 drivers play across our company. Delivering great items at an incredible value would truly not be possible without the drivers in our Private Fleet” said Fernando Cortes, senior vice president of Walmart Transportation in a blog post on the company’s website.
“In fact, many Walmart associates have long been interested in stepping into these driver roles themselves but felt limited by the time and expense of the training required,” Cortes said.
Obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and training to become a truck driver can be expensive, on average it can cost up to $8,000, according to the National Sound Trucking School.
With Walmart’s new Associate-To-Driver program, Walmart fully covers the cost and upon completion of the program, drivers can earn up to $110,000 the first year, the company said.
“Walmart’s Associate-to-Driver program gave me the opportunity to change my family’s lives and travel the country with my best friend,” said Reece Niblett, team driver. Niblett has worked for Walmart’s supply chain since 2012 and is one of the supply chain associates who went through the inaugural Associate-To-Driver program last year.
The City of Allentown broke ground Wednesday for the new Allentown Fire Academy that will train people interested in a career as a firefighter.
The Allentown Fire Academy will be located directly behind Mack South Fire Station at 1902 Lehigh Street.
The new facility will have five administrative offices, two fire academy offices, classroom space that can accommodate up to 100 individuals, and mixed storage space for classroom and hands-on training equipment.
“We look forward to expanding and inviting other jurisdictions to participate in our Fire Academy already offered to our neighboring cities of Bethlehem and Easton,” said Fire Chief Freddie Agosto. “We’ve seen increased regional demand for our training services, which speaks volumes for our program. This will be a huge win for the entire City, as we also look to expand development and implementation of additional fire safety programs.”
The city plans to offer educational opportunities at the Fire Academy to residents and businesses, such as preparing emergency operations plans and general safety and health classes.
The building will also house the city’s first-ever Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
The space will be high-tech and provide real time information to the incident command team and offer quick support response and recovery operations during an emergency including weather events and public safety operations, the city said. The EOC can also support and assist Lehigh County Emergency Management during large scale events.
The project received federal and state support from Congresswoman Susan Wild, D-7th District, and State Senator Pat Browne, R-Lehigh County.
The new Fire Academy and EOC is anticipated to open February 2023.
Allentown-based global technology services firm CAI and Marshall University’s West Virginia Autism Training Center, a statewide technical assistance and direct service agency providing specialized training and support to individuals with autism spectrum disorder, announced Tuesday that they’re joining forces.
They signed a memorandum of understanding for CAI Neurodiverse Solutions – CAI’s end-to-end neurodiversity employment program – to provide work experience and employment opportunities to Marshall neurodivergent graduates, and for the Autism Training Center to strengthen neurodiversity training for CAI employees.
Annually, over 111,000 individuals with autism spectrum disorder in the U.S. turn 18 years old and prepare for the workforce, yet unemployment rates for neurodivergent adults are as high as 40%, a release noted. According to the Autism Society, while universities are mandated to provide transition programs to students on the autism spectrum, not all schools are equipped with the resources to help them adapt to the workforce.
The partnership between CAI Neurodiverse Solutions and the Autism Training Center will allow them to conduct research informing business leaders in how best to support their employees with autism spectrum disorder; to provide students more real-work experience prior to entering college; and to develop graduates’ skillsets necessary to succeed in their jobs.
“We are passionate about helping the neurodiverse community find meaningful careers,” Anthony Pacilio, vice president of CAI Neurodiverse Solutions, said in the release. “Partnering with one of the longest-standing autism service providers in higher education means that we will bring more brilliantly talented individuals into the workforce. We are excited about the impact we will make with the West Virginia Autism Training Center.”
Seniors in the Allentown School District will have a unique opportunity this year thanks to the work of Century Promise and a new state law.
Century Promise, a local non-profit, is working with the school district and local businesses to teach students a job skill that, upon graduation, will guarantee them the job.
The program is possible because Act 158, signed into law in 2018 by Gov. Tom Wolf, takes effect next year. The law enables families and educators to craft a pathway to graduation that moves beyond standardized testing, said Yusuf Dahl of Century Promise.
“Act 158 offers a flexible range of innovative pathways that should bode well for students and the region’s economy,” he said. “For example, rather than a student’s graduation hinging on her ability to recall details from a Shakespearean passage, students can now meet statewide graduation requirements by completing an internship, acquiring an industry certification, and securing employment,” rather than taking the Keystone Exam.
Dahl said Allentown School District was chosen for the pilot program because of the 17,000 students, 85% are Black or Latino, a typically underserved community.
“We had the idea that if we could show them the real benefits of education through the guarantee of a job, we could change their behavior,” he said, referring to the dropout rate.
“Minorities, particularly in our urban cores, have less access to opportunities and education. More than one in five non-whites and more than a quarter of Hispanics or Latinos do not have a high school diploma, compared to white residents, who are three times more likely to graduate from high school.”
By integrating an interconnected set of career learning experiences into high school, these pathways allow graduates to gain professional job experience and earn a living wage before deciding whether a post-secondary degree is right for them.
The program will start with 50 seniors this fall. Dahl said the pilot program will determine if Century Promise is on the right path.
Amy Nyberg, senior vice president of Ambulatory Services for Lehigh Valley Health Network, thinks it is.
“We are looking forward to being part of the program,” she said. “This is such an innovative program that enables high school students to get started in a career in a meaningful way.”
“This flexibility could not be more timely for our region’s economy,” Dahl said.
According to a Lehigh Valley 2021 High Priority Occupations list, only 37% demand an associate degree or higher. Most occupations only require some other form of post-secondary instruction, such as an industry certification or on-the-job training that can now be completed during high school.
“We are working with local employers to train the students for jobs they have. We are looking at the health care, manufacturing and professional services industries,” explained Dahl, who noted that those are areas where the state Department of Labor data shows the greatest need.
“It’s exciting to be able to open a new source for our workforce right here in our neighborhood,” Nyberg said. “The core of our services are right here in Allentown and we can match students with roles. We hope they will stay their entire career.”
For the first year, Nyberg said, LVHN will offer clinical and non-clinical jobs. There will be openings for technicians who assist nurses in hospital and other settings, phlebotomists, and sterilization techs for the operating rooms and other areas where instruments are critical.
In the non-clinical positions, she said students can choose medical receptionist, customer service and medical records jobs.
“We will work with the students to introduce them to a variety of careers. We look at this as a stepping stone where the first job can lead them to others,” Nyberg said, citing tuition reimbursement programs through the network that will allow the students to continue with their education while working.
Dahl said Lehigh Valley is in a unique position to lead this because it is big enough to have a diverse industry base and small enough that people care.
“Leveraging Act 158 to strengthen our communities and support the growth of our economy will require eliminating the silos that have often divided K-12, traditional post-secondary institutions, and workforce and community development,” he said.
“Creating alignment along the education employment pipeline will require collaboration with regional businesses and other community stakeholders to ensure the workforce pathways and industry credentials prepare students for in-demand careers and create employment opportunities that sustain families.”
Seeded with an investment from The Century Fund, Century Promise is committed to harnessing innovative approaches and policies to ensure every student has the incentive to succeed, Dahl added.
“Act 158 is a tremendous asset as we partner with employers and school districts to do more to help students access and secure professional opportunities by opening doors to networks, resources, and relationships that they would not otherwise have access to,” he said.
Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network has partnered with Temple University to train physiatrists at its South Allentown campus.
Good Shepherd’s collaboration with Temple University Hospital Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) Residency Program matches nine qualified candidates in the field of physiatry for a three-year training program at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital, 850 S. 5th St. in Allentown.
The primary aim of the Temple University Hospital PM&R Residency Program at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network is to train physicians who specialize in PM&R. For more than 53 years, Temple has been a highly ranked training program and was one of the first programs in the country to create a formalized residency program in the field of PM&R, Good Shepherd said.
“It truly is an honor to partner with such a high-performing residency program,” said Dr. Sandeep Singh, Good Shepherd’s senior vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer. “Temple has produced some of the most prominent physician leaders in our industry, and we intend to carry on that legacy and enhance the program’s existing reputation.”
Through the Temple University Hospital/Good Shepherd partnership, residents will focus on inpatient rehabilitation at Good Shepherd, including brain injury medicine, stroke rehabilitation, medical rehabilitation and spinal cord injury medicine. The residents also will also experience ambulatory services relevant to chronic disease populations.
“I am anticipating that this collaboration between Temple University Hospital and Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network will bring our already stellar PM&R residency program to a new level of training excellence,” said Dr. Sam S. H. Wu, professor and chair, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.
“It is our goal to provide an experience where training residents can fully understand the breadth and scope of physiatry,” said Singh. “We are modeling our training around the future of value-based care and will inspire our future physiatrists to be thoughtful, forward-thinking clinical leaders, who will impact the outcomes of the communities we serve — primarily people with complex injuries and chronic disabilities — for decades to come.”
Several of Good Shepherd’s physicians will serve as faculty within Temple’s PM&R Department and will have direct responsibility for the program’s success and integrity. Many other Good Shepherd departments will collaborate with the residents to explore and enhance opportunities for research, education and quality improvement.
Good Shepherd is building a state-of-the-art inpatient rehabilitation hospital in Center Valley that will serve people with complex medical conditions, such as stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury and other serious illnesses or injuries.
Three apprenticeship programs in central Pennsylvania and Lehigh Valley are among 14 awarded grants totaling $4.9 million, Gov. Tom Wolf said.
“Throughout history, apprenticeships have been a vital part of career education in certain fields,” Wolf said. “Through these important grants, we are offering more Pennsylvania workers opportunities to train for family-sustaining jobs while helping businesses develop a workforce that will strengthen our economy and the communities most in need.”
Each of the 14 potential or currently registered apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship programs will use this grant funding to develop diverse talent pipelines, reach underrepresented populations, and expand workforce development opportunities in the building and construction trades across 55 counties.
The local grants were awarded to:
Berks Connections Pretrial Services, $290,370, to expand and enhance Rebuilding Reentrants and Reading (R3), a registered pre-apprenticeship program in the construction trades that exclusively serves reentrants. The project will broaden the scope of R3 to include a welding component and a woodworking skills component. This program will serve a diverse and traditionally underserved population.
Insulators Local 23 Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, covering Adams, Berks, Centre, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Mifflin, Northampton, Perry, Schuylkill, Snyder and York counties, $264,981, to grow their registered apprenticeship training program and work toward establishing a pre-apprenticeship program.
TLC Work-Based Training Program, Inc., Dauphin County, $400,000, to continue offering practical learning for the in-demand construction trade acting as a community-based collaborative problem-solving model to address poverty and joblessness. TLC-WBT currently provides apprenticeship opportunities as well as a paid construction training program for people ages 17-25 to benefit veterans, ex-offenders, hard-to-place individuals, at-risk youth, and low- and moderate-income people.
“Apprenticeship offers workers the opportunity to advance their careers while earning a paycheck, and it empowers employers to develop the specific skills they need among their employees to be successful in a dynamic economy. We need to make sure this workforce development model is accessible to workers of all backgrounds,” Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier said.
“Giving all Pennsylvanians the opportunity to earn wages while learning in-demand skills is a major step toward achieving diversity, equity and inclusion among the commonwealth’s workforce,” she said.
The grants, offered through L&I’s Apprenticeship and Training Office (ATO), are part of Governor Wolf’s PA Statewide Movement for Accountability, Readiness and Training (PAsmart) framework, created to better align education, workforce and economic development initiatives and funding.
The U.S. Department of Labor, as part of its Apprenticeship Ambassador Initiative, announced the selection of the initial cohort of 207 officials and organizations chosen to serve as Apprenticeship Ambassadors.
The ambassadors will share their experiences and collaborate with the department to champion apprenticeship opportunities, the department said.
In November 2021, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh announced the Apprenticeship Ambassador Initiative to bring together industry, labor, education, equity and workforce leaders to partner with the department’s Office of Apprenticeship to promote Registered Apprenticeships as a valuable workforce strategy in high-demand industries to develop and expand opportunities for people historically underserved.
The inaugural group of Apprenticeship Ambassadors consists of diverse partners from multiple industries who have demonstrated a willingness to use their Registered Apprenticeship experience and expertise to promote and expand these programs across all industries.
The cohort is comprised of community-based organizations, educators, employers, industry associations, labor organizations, workforce partners, equity partners and state organizations, the department said.
The ambassadors have committed to hosting 3,367 outreach and recruitment activities, 892 training session and 717 promotional meetings. They have also pledged to develop 460 new Registered Apprenticeship programs and 387 resources in their first year as ambassadors.
The department’s Office of Apprenticeship will collaborate with Apprenticeship Ambassadors to promote Registered Apprenticeship as part of the department’s commemoration of the 85th Anniversary of the National Apprenticeship Act on Aug. 16. The commemoration will continue through the remainder of the year, and include National Apprenticeship Week, Nov. 14-20.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry was awarded $3.9 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to strengthen and modernize Registered Apprenticeship programs.
The award is part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s $121 million in Apprenticeship Building Americagrants to enable workers to find reliable pathway to the middle class, the department said in a press release.
The department awarded more than $58 million of the total funding to grantees focusing on equity partnerships and pre-apprenticeship activities.
“The funding of $121.7 million in Apprenticeship Building America grants reaffirms and advances the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to strengthening and expanding Registered Apprenticeships,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh.
“The Apprenticeship Building America grants will develop new pathways to good-quality jobs and provide America’s workers with opportunities to access and succeed in those pathways; and the intentional focus on equity partnerships and pre-apprenticeship activities will create opportunities for underrepresented and underserved communities,” he said.
The Apprenticeship Building America grant program advances the department’s efforts to expand and modernize Registered Apprenticeship by increasing the number of programs and apprentices, diversifying the industries that use Registered Apprenticeship and improving the access to and performance of Registered Apprenticeship Programs for underrepresented and underserved communities.
The 30 recipients of the Apprenticeship Building America grants will incorporate cross-cutting principles to ensure access to quality Registered Apprenticeship Programs including equity, job quality, sustainability, evidence-based approaches and new opportunities for innovation, engagement and ease of access.
Sixty percent of small businesses who have suffered a cyber security breach go out of business within six months.
Allan Jacks, virtual chief information officer with Morefield Communications in Camp Hill, said there was a 424% increase in cyber breaches last year over 2020, with 43% of the victims being small or medium-sized firms.
Financial, utilities, insurance, high tech, and medical businesses are the big targets, he said.
The cost can be catastrophic. Jacks said the loss of personal information can cost a company $180 per file.
“If 10,000 records are lost, that equates to $1.8 million,” he said.
According to a report, the Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021 by IBM Security, small companies lost 38% of their business from increased customer turnover, lost revenue from downtime and increased costs acquiring new business due to a diminished reputation.
Moorefield assists smaller companies who may not have budgets for IT personnel set up protections against such attacks and recommends cyber security insurance that can help pay for the loss of information, payments to those who lose information, forensics and even ransom payments, which are not recommended.
“There is no silver bullet” to protecting against attacks, he said. “But without protections, criminals are more likely to pick the low hanging fruit.”
In order to get cyber security insurance, he said, a company must be able to show it is up to date on protections. That insurance, he said, can keep a company afloat if an attack happens.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order on May 12, 2021, requiring all government agencies to establish multifactor authentication and data encryption for information between government agencies and the private sector.
That order, Jacks said, reaches more companies than people think, because many make small products for the government or even work with companies that work with the government.
In the 2021 Data Breach Investigations report by Verizon Threat Research Advisory Center, Herbert Stapleton, deputy assistant director, FBI Cyber, wrote, “Over the past decade, cyber threat has grown exponentially with national, state and cyber criminals increasing the scale and scope of sophistication of their cyber attacks.”
Addressing the complex environment, he wrote, requires a more comprehensive response than any single government agency, business, technology, or data source can provide.
Stapleton said agencies from the public and private sector are working together to protect against these attacks and impose consequences.
Data protections include things like receiving an approval message when logging into email or entering a code for remote access; gaining administrative access if working on a server; and having access to backup data separate from the network, Jacks said.
“Companies need an instant response plan that is updated on a regular basis so everyone in the company knows what to do if a breach happens,” he said. “Insurers want to know if people are trained and if they know what to do if they get a phishing message.”
They also want to know if companies have a patch management system and how quickly they can roll out patches for software.
Microsoft said in its report that cyber-attacks are the new norm for small business. The reasons the report cited include the inability to afford dedicated IT staff, inadequate or non-existent computer and network security, lack of a backup plan, and employees unknowingly helping cyber criminals.
“Many companies work with third party companies and need to know what is required to continue doing business,” he said. If the third party is breached, so are the companies they work with.
“Over the past few years, insurers have been requiring companies to prove they are improving cyber security,” he said.
So why are the attacks increasing? Jacks said more personal information is being stored including social security numbers, birth dates, credit card numbers, even driver’s license numbers. All of that can and is sold on the dark web, he said.
Insured or not, companies need to be up to date on cyber security because, unless someone is interested in specific data, they will go after companies with low security.
“The more security you have, the more they will look elsewhere,” he said.
The Verizon report also showed the need for small companies to increase protection. The report said that in 2020, small companies had less than half the number of breaches than large companies. In 2021, the report said 307 large companies reported breaches while 263 small companies did.
Often the issue is a company doesn’t have the resources to have an IT department like large organizations do. Jacks said his job is to fill that role by assessing a company’s security and recommending improvements.
“In the past, many companies didn’t even consider this. Now they are. If things don’t look OK when you start looking, don’t put your trust in hope. We validate all of this,” he said.
In fact, the only safe security for any internet accessible system is one that is powered off and disconnected, he said.
Even then, when a system is booted back up, information can be obtained or held for ransom. Jacks explained that many hackers will take information, encrypt it, and return it. Then when the company goes to use the information, it can’t access it.
That was the case at Lincoln College of Illinois, which shut down May 13. A statement on the college’s website said the college was a victim of a cyberattack in December 2021 that halted admissions and access to all institutional data.
Once restored in March, the college tried strengthening its financial position but was unable to do so.
In addition to patching software, running back-ups, and conducting penetration tests, Jacks said companies need end user training so if a breach occurs, it knows what to do immediately.
“We do phishing tests (for clients) to see who clicks on suspicious emails. That way they learn what to look out for.”
The bottom line, he said, if security isn’t monitored and protections aren’t in place, breaches will happen.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said the termination of the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers Program will affect nearly 100,000 workers.
In a statement following the June 30 termination, he said, “Since it was first established by the Trade Act of 1974, the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers Program has provided training, income support, employment and case management services, job search and relocation allowances to eligible, certified worker groups for benefits due to job losses or wage reductions resulting from global trade. TAA has helped more than 2.5 million workers obtain the skills, training, resources and support they need to become reemployed in quality jobs.”
Thousands of workers who experience layoffs after June 30 who would have been entitled to receive benefits will no longer be eligible for TAA – even if they have a certified petition, he said. The department is assessing how other Employment and Training Administration workforce programs can support these workers.
“Only Congress can affirm the importance of TAA and reauthorize the program,” he said. Until then, the labor department will continue to work with state officials to administer all entitlements under the TAA for Workers Program until the last worker leaves.
“The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers Program expired, and the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration has begun phasing-out activities. The termination provisions under Section 285(a) of the Trade Act of 1974 require the department to cease making determinations on petitions immediately. The department may continue to make determinations on requests to amend previously certified petitions,” he said.
The department recently published a training and employment guidance letter to explain the operation status of petitions and investigations, fiscal funding and the administration of benefits and services for participants after June 30, 2022.
“Fiscal Year 2022 program training funds will be available to states through 2025,” he said.
The Allentown Police Department has been using the St. Luke’s University Health Network’s Simulation Center to prepare officers to respond to emergencies.
The work between the Sim Center and the Allentown Police Department has been a “godsend for us,” said APD Sergeant Chris Hendricks, a trained paramedic who leads the department’s ODT-5, or Officer Down Training (First Five Minutes).
The Sim Center has been able “to help us put these officers in scenarios that are as close as they can possibly be to real life, like a situation where an officer has been shot and is bleeding to death right in front of you,” Hendricks said.
By allowing the officers to experience high levels of stress through intense simulations, they will be better able to handle any number of crisis situations, he said.
St. Luke’s Sim Center is based at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Bethlehem, where it designs and produces a variety of simulation materials and models, called task trainers, and provides training sessions for organizations inside and outside the network.
These partners include groups as small as a local Boy Scout troop and as large as divisions of the military and Homeland Security, said Megan Augustine, director of St. Luke’s Network Simulation Center and 3D Print & Innovation Lab.
St. Luke’s Simulation Center’s use has grown since its inaugural year in 2014 when roughly 4,600 learners passed through. By 2021, that number grew to 15,000 learners.
Custom task trainers allow Augustine’s staff to conduct basic first aid programs – such as wound care – with student groups. “And we regularly participate in mass casualty drills where we use real people, simulating real injuries and real responses to those injuries,” Augustine said.
Reading-based Penske Truck Leasing has branded a classroom for hands on diesel technology training at WyoTech campus in Laramie, Wyoming.
The classroom will introduce students to various training such as diagnostics, fuel and engine exhaust system, maintenance and repair, industry certifications and career opportunities in the industry, Penske said.
Over the last 10 years, Penske has hired more than 280 WyoTech graduates nationally to work as technicians in its regional operations.
“Diesel technicians are vital to Penske and the entire industry,” said Fred Haddad, area vice president of Penske Truck Leasing. “The technicians graduating from WyoTech and that subsequently get hired to work in trucking, maintain vehicle uptime and supply chain efficiency.”
Diesel technicians are a key component in keeping essential supply chains moving; nearly every good consumed in the U.S. is transported by truck, the company said. The U.S. trucking industry hauls more than 70% of all transported freight.
Penske works with leading technical schools, and related organizations such as SkillsUSA and the TechForce Foundation, to meet the current and future demand of technicians.
“WyoTech is proud to support Penske in delivering entry level technicians to meet the needs of Penske’s job openings,” said Shawn Nunley, vice president of training at WyoTech. “The partnership we have with Penske provides a pathway for career opportunities after our students nine months of training at WyoTech,” he said.
“Having a classroom branded with the Penske name is aspirational for our students while they are here. A reminder to show up and work hard for the opportunity to work at a company like Penske,” he said. “We love to see our graduates land with great employers.”
Penske Truck Leasing operates and maintains one of the industry’s largest fleets with its truck maintenance technician workforce comprising about 9,450 of the company’s 39,000-plus associates.
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