PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry awarded more than $685,000 to support the growth of digital-literacy programs for job-seekers across the state.

Two of the beneficiaries of this grant funding are located in the Midstate. These include the Ephrata Public Library, located in Lancaster County, and the York County Literacy Council.

According to the department, the Ephrata Public Library plans to use the funding to expand class offerings. The additions will include more advanced training in Microsoft Excel, graphic design, and a class on recent developments in generative AI.

The library staff will continue offering 15 hours of supervised computer lab time per week for practice, remediation and enrichment.

To accommodate for participants’ work schedules, popular classes will be offered twice, at different times of the day. Computer lab hours will also be offered during the morning, afternoon, and evening.

The York County Literacy Council will also use the grant funding to improve its digital literacy skills program and teach students how to find and consume digital content.

The program also covers how to create, communicate and share digital content, and the basics of internet safety.

York County Representative Carol Hill-Evans releases a statement in support of the grants.

“We’re going to see two types of benefits by growing this digital literacy program. On an individual basis, it will teach crucial skills to people who need employment but have been disconnected from other educational opportunities due to circumstances such as homelessness, growing up in foster care, and disability,” Hill-Evans said. 

She believes the funding will also support statewide workforce development efforts.

“It will also support our workforce development efforts. Pennsylvania’s labor pool is in need of new, skilled workers. By providing people with the means to gain the digital skills required by employers, we’ll provide relief to sectors struggling to find qualified employees.”

“Pennsylvanians cannot obtain meaningful jobs if they do not have fundamental digital-literacy skills to carry out the tasks necessary to be successful in our workforce,” Labor and Industry Secretary Nancy A. Walker said. “This grant funding will prepare Pennsylvanians with career-ready skills and knowledge, while helping ensure equitable access to employment in emerging industries and high-demand occupations across the Commonwealth.”