Stimulus Allocates Billions for Job-Training Opportunities
John Rossheim, Monster Senior Contributing Writer
With tens of millions of people unemployed or underemployed, and with blue-chip industries from automotive to banking in distress, the US workforce sorely needs help. So the new funding for job training provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is a well-timed boon to American workers.
“The [federal] workforce system will play a vital role in America’s economic recovery by assisting workers who are facing unprecedented challenges to retool their skills and reestablish themselves in viable career paths,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis in a statement.
While ARRA money for training won’t by itself put millions back to work, it is a substantial boost to local and state programs that receive federal backing.
“New funding for workforce training and development is about $4 billion — a huge amount,” says Julian Alssid, executive director of the Workforce Strategy Center, a workforce development think tank in New York City. “The stimulus money is being pushed out very rapidly.”
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The major ARRA provisions that will beef up training include:
- $1.25 billion for dislocated adult workers, such as those laid off or who have received advanced notice of a factory closing.
- $1.2 billion for dislocated youth workers.
- $500 million in state grants for employment services, mainly for low-income adults.
- $500 million to fund training for sustainable energy jobs.
Funding for workforce training is seen as more than a stopgap. “The public is investing in the worker,” says Chris Stiehl, a consultant who has researched the Workforce Investment Act since it was enacted in 1998. “We’re now going to be able to reach out and train more people and make them more competitive in the workforce.”
The key to connecting with the new training money is local One-Stop Career Centers, the federal government’s network of more than 3,000 employment-help offices. “If job seekers want to take full advantage of ARRA, they need to be prepared when they arrive at a One-Stop,” Alssid says. “They should get a handle on what good jobs are available in the region, look at what economic development agencies are doing, and think about their own job skills and how they are transferable.”