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Job-training grants totaling $53 million are now available through the
Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF), the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced May 14, 2014. Those eligible to apply are state workforce agencies, local Workforce Investment Boards and entities eligible to apply for WIF Section 166 grants.
The grants are “the latest in a series of critical investments designed to encourage and reward workforce innovation for people to get the skills they need to succeed,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said during a news conference call.
Approximately $171 million in grants have been awarded so far—$147 million for 26 grants in July 2012 through the WIF for
innovative approaches to workforce services & reform, and $24 million for two
Pay for Success grants in October 2013.
The DOL, he said, is “working feverishly for businesses to get access to skilled workers and … workers to make a decent living.”
On April 28, 2014, the DOL announced up to $150 million had been set aside for states, U.S. territories and federally recognized tribes to help train laid-off workers and get them into high-demand industries. That money is being made available through a new Job-Driven National Emergency Grant program.
Other recent grants aimed at stimulating job growth have included the $150 million Ready to Work Partnership grant competition to help people experiencing long-term unemployment obtain jobs and training.
Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, said her department will be working with the DOL “to break down the silos between the private sector, the workforce system, training organizations, academic institutions and government” to create a system that supports the needs of workers and U.S. businesses.
“We know workforce training works best when we have businesses at the table to define precisely what they’re looking for as they hire employees to help design training to meet those needs,” she said in prepared remarks during the announcement Wednesday.
The DOL noted in the WIF application material that it anticipates awarding between eight and 15 grants that will range from $3 million to $12 million. Proposed projects, according to the grant information, should “support innovative approaches that generate long-term improvements in the performance of the public workforce system, outcomes for job seekers and employers, and cost-effectiveness.”
Projects funded with this grant money, the DOL said, “will be rigorously evaluated in order to build a body of knowledge about what works in workforce development.”
Applications for the Workforce Innovation Fund grants must be received by 4 p.m. EST on June 18, 2014. Current WIF grantees are eligible to apply but cannot propose a project that is an expansion of their current WIF project; the proposed project must be separate from any existing project funded under the WIF.
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