Home News Putting the focus on technology and energy jobs

Putting the focus on technology and energy jobs

Lawmakers and Steamfitters officials and apprentices at the end of a one-hour tour of Local 420’s facility.

The chairman of the state Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee was in the Northeast last week as part of his effort to promote the importance of technology and energy in a post-pandemic digital economy.

Sen. John Yudichak, a Luzerne County independent who caucuses with Republicans, on April 14 toured the Steamfitters’ Local Union 420 training center, at 14420 Townsend Road.

A day earlier, Yudichak chaired a committee hearing at vXchnge, a computer data center at 15th and Spring Garden streets that offers connectivity solutions.

After the Steamfitters’ tour, he chaired another hearing at a medical solutions company in Harleysville.

Yudichak believes the data center industry can create thousands of new high-wage jobs in Pennsylvania, if the state adopts innovative business tax policies. The lawmaker also points to last year’s passage of Act 66, a tax credit with the potential to attract petrochemical manufacturers to Pennsylvania, which has an abundance of safe natural gas.

“There can be big-time job development for Pennsylvania,” he said. “Jobs matter.”

Ed Engel, Steamfitters 420 director of HVAC training, explains the process to Sens. John Yudichak (left) and John Sabatina Jr.

Jim Snell, business manager for Steamfitters’ 420, led Yudichak on the tour of the training facility and testified at the second hearing.

Snell understands the shift taking place in the way the U.S. is powered, which includes protections for the environment. At the same time, he believes it’s necessary to protect related high-paying manufacturing jobs. The energy transition isn’t happening overnight, he said, adding that there remains a need for the traditional energy sources that power everyday lives.

“It’s about feeding your families,” he said.

Petrochemicals, he pointed out, are still used in an array of products found in households, hospitals and elsewhere.

“Petrochemicals are very important in today’s world,” he said.

On the tour, Yudichak was impressed with the technically skilled workforce he learned about and the complicated machinery they utilize.

“These guys are at the forefront of technology,” he said.

When Yudichak learned that community colleges are able to secure government workforce development dollars, he suggested that the building trades partner with the schools.

Others on the tour included Democratic Sens. John Sabatina Jr., Lisa Boscola, Maria Collett and Amanda Cappelletti, all members of the committee.

Snell, director of training Pete Klein and director of HVAC training Ed Engel showed the way. Union apprentices include college graduates, people coming from non-union shops and recent graduates of vo-tech and traditional high schools.

Steamfitters 420 director of training Pete Klein talks with (from left) Steamfitters business manager Jim Snell and Sens. John Yudichak, Lisa Boscola and John Sabatina Jr.

“It’s a mix of everyone coming through the door,” Klein said.

“College isn’t for everybody,” Snell said of the younger apprentices.

The Steamfitters’ officials showcased classrooms, top-of-the-line desktop computers and rooms dedicated to welding and soldering, all with a premium on safety, with apprentices taking pride in their artistry. Apprentices are instructed on both new and older equipment that they might see at a workplace. The instructors are highly regarded in the national industry.

The center is accredited and can lead to an associate’s degree and countless certifications that look good on a resume. Once on the job, graduates receive a nice package of benefits, pension and healthcare. ••

Exit mobile version