A bill that would help unemployed workers get on-the-job training while maintaining their benefits is heading to the state Senate.
State Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor, created the bill to establish the Keystone Works program. The proposal passed the House unanimously on Tuesday.
Keystone Works would allow a person on unemployment benefits to work for a business up to 24 hours a week for eight weeks at no cost to the employer.
For employees, it means they can get training needed to help secure a job long-term while still receiving unemployment to support them until they are hired permanently.
For employers, it means they won't have to pay to train a new employee.
"It doesn't cost someone an arm and a leg to get someone trained," Saylor said.
Saylor believes it will be less expensive for the state in the long run to fund unemployment for a couple extra months after someone is technically on the job rather than force employers to pay for training -- it can be a better, faster way to get a worker off unemployment.
Otherwise, an employer might not take a chance on an unemployed worker because of the training cost, he said.
Getting involved: Employers would have to volunteer to be part of the program. The state would then link the participating employer with an unemployed worker who might be a good fit.
The employer is not obligated to keep the worker on staff after the training period is over if they feel it won't work out, and the worker isn't required to accept the job, Saylor said.
Saylor added he understands the program won't universally help everyone, as some jobs require more intense training than eight weeks.
But he said a similar program in Georgia helped more than 3,000 people get permanent jobs.
He hopes for a similar total in Pennsylvania if the bill passes the Senate, which is set to take a vote on it soon. Gov. Tom Corbett already has voiced his support, Saylor said.
"It benefits both sides" of the work force, he added.
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