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PR Tech Corridor gets $7M grant to curb unemployment

The Puerto Rico Technoeconomic Corridor in Mayagüez. The Puerto Rico Technoeconomic Corridor in Mayagüez.

The Puerto Rico Technoeconomic Corridor in Mayagüez has been selected to receive more than $7 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Labor to join the effort to help curb long-term unemployment.

Under the federal agency’s “Ready to Work Partnership” initiative, 23 partnerships to serve individuals in 20 states and Puerto Rico split nearly $170 million “to support and scale innovative collaborations between employers, nonprofit organizations and federal job training programs to help connect ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.”

“There’s no question that individuals struggling with long-term unemployment are better off than they were 12 months ago, but there are still twice as many of them as there were before the recession. The constant struggle to find work has left many of them feeling discouraged and disregarded,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “The federal grants we’re awarding today are part of a series of administration initiatives designed to help encourage, empower and employ this pool of talented individuals.”

The Puerto Rico Technoeconomic Corridor is a nonprofit whose mission is to enable Western Puerto Rico’s economic development, with emphasis on the commercialization of new and innovative technologies. With the funding, the entity will serve the towns of Mayagüez, Aguada, Aguadilla, Anasco, Moca, Rincón, Cabo Rojo, Lajas, Hormigueros, Maricao, Las Marías, Mayaguez, San German, Sabana Grande, Isabela, Guánica, Quebradillas and San Sebastián.

Grantees announced Wednesday will incorporate three primary functions:
Outreach and Recruitment: Working alongside state unemployment insurance programs, the network of more than 2,500 American Job Centers, community and faith-based organizations, job clubs and other worker advocate organizations to identity and recruit participants in need of training and supportive services;

Training and Support Services: Participants in programs funded by these grants will receive job training and support services for occupations in information technology, advanced manufacturing, health care and other high-demand industries. Participants will receive a comprehensive, up-front assessment of their needs and skills resulting in customized classroom and online training that will lead them to an industry-recognized degree or certificate. Participants will also receive financial counseling, child-care support, health care and other services to help them focus on finding a job.

Placement Strategies: All projects incorporate strong placement strategies to support long-term unemployed workers in finding rapid employment in middle- and high- skilled jobs. These projects will include a designated career coach to guide long-term unemployed individuals from the assessment period all the way to job placement. Services will include resume consultation, networking coaching, social media strategies and mock interview with employers. In addition, many projects include commitments from employers to hire or interview program participants following their completion of a work-based training program.

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