HARRISBURG Governor Tom Corbett today announced the availability of up to $1 million in JOBS1st PA grants to improve and enhance existing apprenticeship programs in the state so that apprentices acquire the skills necessary to compete in the 21st century. The funding will be made available by the Department of Labor & Industry through its re-employment fund.

"Apprenticeship programs improve the skills of Pennsylvania's dedicated workforce and enhance the efficiency and productivity of American industries," Corbett said."Some of the most high-priority occupations in the commonwealth are linked to apprenticeship training programs."

High-priority occupations include auto service technicians, electricians, carpenters, construction laborers, plumbers, pipe fitters and steamfitters, maintenance workers, and welders, among others.

Funding will be distributed through a competitive process with anticipated grant amounts of up to $50,000. Grant funding will be available until funds for the current fiscal year are exhausted.

Interested qualified applicants may visit dli.state.pa.us/apprenticeship for more information and to apply for a grant. Submissions will be accepted through March 31, 2015, or until funds are exhausted.

In 2012, Corbett launched JOBS1st PA as a comprehensive road map to economic recovery that harnessed the state's resources and talents to prioritize private-sector job creation and retention. Today, Pennsylvania's unemployment rate is at its lowest since September 2008 and jobs have been growing on a consistent basis for nearly four years.