At Home in Berks August 2017 - 27

more than twice the average annual employment change when
compared to state-wide growth (.8%) for the same period. Total
employment has reached 9,435 or approximately 5% of the employment in Berks County, and is projected to continue modest
growth to over 10,200 by 2027.
While annual new job growth within the industry is forecast at a
moderate 0.8% with slightly more than 800 jobs to be added over
the next ten years, a particular concern is the need for replacement jobs within the sector in the same period. Currently 48% of
those employed in construction occupations are included in the
45 years or older age demographic. Compounding this aging
demographic issue is the reality that nearly 3,000 workers (31%)
are employed in skilled trades and construction machine operating occupations that require long-term training, apprenticeships,
and licensing certification. These high demand occupations
include Carpenters, Electricians, Plumbers & Pipefitters, HVAC/R
Technicians, and Operating Engineers and Heavy Construction
Equipment Operators.
With this new focus on the industry as a potential workforce
and economic development growth cluster, the Berks County
WDB has adopted construction into its 2017-2021 Berks County
Industry Sector Strategy Priorities as a Priority B - "Recovering
Industry" and the Board has recommended sustained support of
the industry's progress toward sustainable growth in employment
and output. It is the Board's policy to enhance ongoing employer engagement in the promotion of CTC program enrollment
and apprenticeship opportunities in programs relevant to the
industry's needs. The Board has also assisted the Berks County
Pre-Trial Services (BCPS) community-based organization in the
development of a successful US Department of Labor (US DOL)
re-entry grant opportunity. Beginning in July 2017, this 3-year
grant will introduce ex-offenders to work-based experience and
skills acquisition in construction trades occupations leading to
family sustaining career pathways in this critical industry sector.
It is expected that 150 local qualifying individuals will benefit from
this innovative partnership.

Note: Recognizing that construction firms typically contract for projects
that are regional and might require hiring outside of their local workforce
development area, the Berks WDB takes into consideration the labor
market shed in the Southeast PA region and has solicited feedback from
neighboring WDBs in Southeastern PA who share our level of concern
surrounding the supply versus demand for these skilled occupations
and the need for their continued classification as High Priority Occupations. Overwhelmingly, their response has confirmed that they and their
employers share this priority need. The Berks WDB, in partnership with
and on behalf of the SE PA PREP Partners, served as the lead applicant
in a collective regional petition initiative for the inclusion of the Carpenters,
Electricians, Plumbers & Pipefitters, HVAC/R Technicians, and Operating
Engineers and Heavy Construction Equipment Operators SOC codes on
the High Priority Occupations list in our six Workforce Development Area
region (Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia
WDBs).

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of At Home in Berks August 2017

At Home in Berks August 2017 - 1
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