WEDnetPA – An Employee Skill-building and Training Program
In an effort to help more Pennsylvania companies effectively compete locally, nationally, and internationally, the Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania (WEDnetPA), conceptualized in 1998 by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, provides skill-building and training to employees.
The employees must hold permanent, full-time positions eligible for full-time benefits; they must be residents of Pennsylvania and employed in Pennsylvania; and the employees must earn at least 150 percent of current federal minimum wage, excluding benefits.
“An important goal of the program is to be responsive to the needs of Pennsylvania’s business community through a flexible and easy-to-use system,” Thomas Venditti, statewide director of WEDnetPA, said.
Based on the importance of empowering businesses to determine their own training needs, the program is particularly effective as it allows those businesses to choose from a variety of training-delivery options. These options include third-party training providers, WEDnetPA partners, and in-house training.
Venditti said that “training can be conducted on-site, off-site, or online.” The expense of such training is offset by the use of WEDnetPA funds, giving companies the flexibility to provide more training options for their employees than would be otherwise possible.
The fiscal responsibility for the administration of the program falls to Penn College, also one of the 27 WEDnetPA partners serving as a contact point for businesses applying for available training funds. The actual day-to-day operations are overseen by an office in Harrisburg.
“Since the inception of WEDnetPA, DCED’s investment has reached more than 18,000 Pennsylvania businesses and trained more than 1.1 million workers,” Venditti said.
The target business demographic of WEDnetPA is in the manufacturing and technology fields, where essential skill and advanced technology training is offered. Nearly all employees of any eligible business are able to take advantage of the training as long as the training is categorized as skill-building and has a direct impact on their current job.
“Current guidelines are available online, and the WEDnetPA partners are ready to assist with the application process and to answer any questions,” Venditti said.
Some of the topics covered by the training programs offered by WEDnetPA include basic and advanced math, communication and teamwork, quality assurance, computer operations, machine operations and maintenance, advanced manufacturing technology, and much more.
“Regardless of the training topic, companies always select the training provider of their choice,” Venditti said.
Companies also choose the training methods that best fit their needs, and training costs are reimbursed after the training is successfully completed and documented.
The program boasts thousands of success stories, Venditti stated. According to an annual online survey, 99 percent of companies who use the WEDnetPA services reported positive outcomes as a result and would recommend the program to other companies.
Additionally, 90 percent said that WEDnetPA helped them meet their training objectives, and 81 percent realized improved product and/or service quality thanks to the training provided by WEDnetPA.
“The keystone of the program is WEDnetPA’s commitment to customer service and its ability to be responsive to the specific needs of Pennsylvania’s business community,” Venditti said.
The program was designed to be easy to use, thus encouraging companies to take advantage of the services provided. Important elements of that ideal include the ability for companies to determine their own training needs and to choose how, when, and where they get their training.
The entire process from beginning to end is paperless, and companies are “quickly reimbursed for their training after the training is completed and all eligibility criteria and documentation requirements have been satisfied and confirmed,” Venditti said.
Applications for the fiscal year 2017-18 are being accepted (as of June 1), with initial funding decisions being made in August.
“WEDnetPA will continue accepting applications beyond August, depending upon the availability of funding,” Venditti said. “The application process is simple, but it is also competitive.” BW
Visit the WEDnetPA website at www.wednetpa.com for more information.