The U.S. Department of Labor announced Wednesday grants exceeding $154.7 million awarded to 32 states, Puerto Rico and the Cherokee tribal nation through the Job-Driven National Emergency Grant program. The funding will be used to implement or expand job-driven training programs for laid-off workers for jobs in high-demand industries.
Of that total, Puerto Rico will receive nearly $6.2 million, the agency disclosed.
“President Obama has made it a priority to expand opportunities for people to access in-demand skills training. That’s why, at the Department of Labor, we are investing in proven strategies that connect ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs. This year, we will release roughly $1 billion in targeted, job-driven training funds,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Pérez.
“Providing workers with access to the skills training they need to pursue in-demand jobs is critical to expanding opportunity and to helping businesses grow and thrive. We know that job-driven training programs work, and that they’re often the best way to provide real ladders of opportunity. Today’s awards will help states establish or expand programs that can change peoples’ lives,” he said.
The funding announced will help create or expand employer partnerships that provide opportunities for on-the-job training, registered apprenticeships or other occupational training that result in an industry-recognized credential, stateside agency officials said.
Funding will also be used to provide services, such as career coaching and counseling, as well as assisting with job placement that help connect laid-off workers, including the long-term unemployed, with available jobs.
“Since taking office about one year ago, I have spoken to more than 1,000 CEOs and business leaders around the country. Across the board, they have told me that finding the right workers to fill available jobs is a top challenge they are facing, and that is one reason the Department of Commerce has made skills and workforce development a top priority for the very first time,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.
“From my personal experience, I know this: businesses have to be at the table as we develop training mechanisms to define precisely what they are looking for as they hire employees,” she said. “These investments will assist in the creation of new or expanded employer partnerships that will help us break down silos between businesses, workforce training initiatives and government to create a collaborative environment that supports the needs of both our workers and our businesses.”
In addition to expanding work-based learning strategies — which recent studies show increase employment and earnings outcomes — grantees are also expected to develop strong partnerships between workforce and industry organizations and align services with other federal, state or local programs and agencies, such as Unemployment Insurance, Trade Adjustment Assistance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and economic development agencies.
Funding for the grants was made available through the Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Worker National Reserve fund, agency officials said.