Portions of this story originally appeared on the Department of Labor and Industry website. 

On February 7, the Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier highlighted a unique initiative to provide training for emerging jobs in agribusiness. The partnership among The GIANT Company, workforce development organizations, three academic institutions, including Shippensburg University, and Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Foundation is supported by a recent $250,000 Industry Partnership Grant from L&I.

“This grant program builds on Governor Wolf’s PAsmart initiative, through which the administration has distributed nearly $60 million statewide since 2018 to expand job training through registered apprenticeships and industry partnerships and to support STEM and computer science education in hundreds of Pennsylvania schools,” Secretary Berrier said.  “Workforce development is most successful when community members collaborate to develop practical solutions to collective problems.”

The project expands an existing leadership program created for incumbent The GIANT Company employees by including additional occupations and dislocated workers – particularly within underserved populations — in the South Central Pennsylvania region. Shippensburg University, Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) and the Harrisburg University of Science of Technology are developing curriculum and credited education to put workers on a successful career pathway within agribusiness, including transportation/warehousing and manufacturing.

“Through the grant and this unique collaboration, stakeholders will work to address upskilling needs for food manufacturers and grocery retailers like The GIANT Company across the midstate,” said Matt Lutcavage, vice president of Team Experience and chief human resources officer for The GIANT Company. “Together, we’ll work to reskill dislocated workers and skill potential workers for two of the commonwealth’s most in-demand industries: agribusiness and transportation and warehousing – industries our company is forever grateful for and reliant upon.”

“The time is now for higher education to be innovative in creating short-term, equitable, and inclusive credentialing opportunities that serve a diverse range of individuals across Pennsylvania,” said Cynthia Pritchard, CEO of the State System Foundation. “Higher ed is a key driver of local economies in the commonwealth, and this partnership illustrates our shared commitment to fulfilling the workforce needs of the commonwealth and ensuring students are prepared for well-paying, life-changing jobs.”

“This collaboration of education, workforce and economic development, and employers ensures we will meet the needs of the region’s growing workforce,” said Dr. Charles E. Patterson, interim president of Shippensburg University. “Shippensburg University is honored to receive this Industry Partnership grant that will supply a collaborative model of delivering innovative practices and programs committed to growing and sustaining the agribusiness industry in the South Central PA region.”

Patterson also announced individuals served by the program will gain access to Shippensburg University’s Career Center where they can work with a team of experts on resume and interview preparation as well as access a free professional dress closet program.

“The South Central Pennsylvania region boasts a robust economic and workforce ecosystem, visible through the partnership represented here. Thank you, Secretary Berrier, for trusting us with this charge. We look forward to the important work ahead of us,” said Patterson.