Job skills program; Details needed to show practicality

It all sounds like the correct priority at the correct time that fits well with the future.

Gov. Tom Wolf is taking steps to implement a $30 million workforce development initiative to expand high-demand computer and industrial skills training, an effort funded under the recently passed state budget.

The initiative comes at a time when the nation’s unemployment rate is so low that there aren’t enough workers to fill positions.

And the area among the most wanting over the past several years has been in the science and technology fields.

This program will devote $20 million to help teach science, math and technology, along with computer science.

And there’s another $10 million for apprenticeship and job training.

But there’s a wide gulf between a government-sponsored idea and practical application of an initiative that works in the real world.

In the case of this program, the money is to be distributed through competitive grants.

How will that work?

Is the money going to local school districts or job training agencies or both?

Will our comparatively rural entities be on equal footing in the grant competition with institutions from more largely populated areas?

Those issues have been stumbling blocks with past state-sponsored grant programs.

Will the entire $30 million be in the grants or will a portion of it be swallowed up by organizational bureaucracy?

And if that’s the case, how much is necessary for operating the program and how much is grant funding?

Efficiency is always a concern when it comes to state-sponsored grant programs.

If that seems unfair, take a look at the expansion of state government spending over the past 20 years.

Our cynicism is based on the long-term track record.

The idea and the object of the program seem legitimate. And if it is, more details will bear that out.

It is a gubernatorial election year.

We don’t want this to be a fly-by-night campaign tool that has no practical application after November.

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