WASHINGTON — Losing a job is often traumatic, especially when the layoff was unexpected and through no fault of the worker. For those struggling with long-term unemployment, the trauma can deepen to despair and frustration as finances dwindle and prospects are limited.
To help workers find new jobs, the U.S. Department of Labor is making $150 million available through the new Sector Partnerships National Emergency Grant program to help states develop innovative employment and training services that focus on enhanced regional and industry-specific collaborations. The effort is designed to support proven strategies to help people rejoin the job market and add fuel to the economy.
"Building a better workforce system means doing things in smarter more effective ways. It means scaling up the programs that we know work. It also means constantly innovating to better serve the people who need it most," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "These grants will provide states with critical funding to implement and expand proven strategies so that workers can secure a foothold in the middle class and businesses can grow."
Sector partnerships are employer-driven partnerships of industry, education and training, and other stakeholders that focus on the workforce needs of key industries in a regional labor market. This initiative will encourage the development of training strategies based on these partnerships to better address regional workforce needs. The funding will be used to help states offer new services such as regional sector planning, enhanced career services to dislocated workers, and work-based training opportunities.
In addition to expanding work-based training opportunities — which recent studies show increase employment and earnings — grantees will also develop strong partnerships between workforce and industry organizations and align services with other federal, state or local programs, such as Unemployment Insurance, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Wagner-Peyser Employment Service, and Trade Adjustment Assistance programs. Funds will also be used to provide services such as:
- Comprehensive skills assessments, intensive coaching, relocation assistance, and other short-term, specialized services culminating in direct job placement;
- Short-term training and work-based learning opportunities such as OJT leading to employment; and
- Accelerated skills training, with a focus on work-based training that leads to industry-recognized credentials and employment such as registered apprenticeship.
Sector partnerships build of the principles outlined in Vice President Joseph R. Biden's Job-Driven Training Report to encourage greater regional collaborations between employers, educational institutions and the local workforce system. The grant initiative also advances and complements the more integrated and comprehensive dislocated worker services envisioned by the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
Grants will range from $500,000 to $7 million and all states, territories and federally-recognized tribes are eligible to apply for funding. Applications must be received by May 29 to be considered. More information on applying for funding is available in Training and Employment Guidance Letter 31-14.