WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gov. Tom Wolf joined President Donald Trump and a group of governors on Thursday at the White House in a roundtable discussion on creating a highly skilled and successful workforce, highlighting his commitment to breaking down barriers to employment in Pennsylvania.

“We have a robust, focused bipartisan effort to address employment and creating the strongest workforce in the nation, and I appreciate the opportunity to share our accomplishments with the President and my fellow governors,” Wolf said. “We’re enhancing job training for in-demand careers, creating fairer job licensing requirements, supporting our military families, and removing barriers to success for formerly incarcerated individuals.

“These efforts would not even be considered without the shared commitment of our General Assembly and I thank them for their work and their many accomplishments.”

At the roundtable, Wolf outlined his comprehensive approach to workforce development, the governor also is proposing sweeping new reforms to occupational licensing that cut red tape and remove barriers to work.

After decades of expanding job licensing, there is a national movement to reduce restrictions while protecting consumers and benefiting workers and Pennsylvania is leading the way with Wolf’s proposed occupational licensing reforms, including:

Repealing 13 job licenses and replace them with less restrictive requirements;

Improving the process for military spouses to transfer occupational licenses from other states;

Balancing education and training requirements by returning continuing education regulations to levels in state law;

Removing the automatic 10-year ban on licensing for people with a drug felony conviction and enabling licensing board to make individual decisions.

Gov. Wolf also discussed his comprehensive workforce development strategy. His innovative PAsmart initiative that launched last year is investing in science and technology education, job training and apprenticeships, and the proposed Statewide Workforce, Education, and Accountability Program (SWEAP) builds on that success to provide opportunities for Pennsylvanians from birth to retirement. SWEAP expands access to early childhood education, increases investments in schools, and collaborates with the private sector and stakeholders.

Wolf has established the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center that brings together the private sector and state agencies to address the skills gap, worker shortages, and other workforce challenges and has launched the Apprenticeship and Training Office, resulting in 206 new apprenticeship programs or occupations and a total of 17,041 registered apprentices statewide.

Wolf also proposed the PA GI Bill to support military families. Expected to reach his desk soon, this first-in-the-nation bipartisan legislation enables members of the Pennsylvania National Guard who reenlist to receive post-secondary education credits for their spouse and children.

A conversation on workforce should include criminal justice reform efforts, another strong bipartisan effort in Pennsylvania. Reentry and reintegration programs are helping inmates and parolees overcome barriers to post-incarceration success, further strengthening Pennsylvania’s workforce.

“We know that effective reentry strategies reduce recidivism and increase public safety, and we are cutting red tape to help those reentering their communities succeed,” Wolf said. “I commend our General Assembly for viewing this important, ongoing effort through a bi-partisan lens, focused on individuals, not political party.”

“These licensing reforms, workforce initiatives and groundbreaking criminal justice reforms happened because Pennsylvania’s General Assembly is committed to and focused on bi-partisan efforts,” Wolf said. “I thank each of our legislators for working across the aisle with a blind-eye toward party. Pennsylvania must be a place where all people can put their skills, experience and education to work. I will continue to work with the private sector and the legislature to make smart investments in workers, so all Pennsylvanians have access to good jobs, Pennsylvania businesses grow, and new industries come to the commonwealth.”