With long-term unemployment continuing to be a sticky issue long after the official end of the recession, the Department of Labor is looking to community colleges and workforce investments boards — along with businesses — to help retrain people who have been out of work at least six months.
The DOL’s Employment and Training Administration has unveiled full details on the $150 million Ready to Work Partnership grant competition — the latest injection of federal funds to help retrain displaced workers. Between 20 to 30 grants, ranging from $3 million to $10 million each, will be awarded to partnerships led by WIBs or training providers such as community colleges. The partnerships must include at least three employers or an industry association.
Of the 10.2 million unemployed people in the U.S., more than a third (3.6 million) have been out of work for at least six months, and just over a quarter (2.5 million) have been unemployed for at least one year. The longer a person is out of the work, the less likely it is that he or she will find a new job. And research shows the long-term unemployed who land a job earn significantly less than they would make if they were continuously employed.
Through Ready to Work partnerships, the DOL will fund programs that can “effectively recruit and serve long-term unemployed workers,” specifically focusing on jobs where employers currently use large numbers of foreign workers on H-1B visas. To accomplish this, the DOL outlined three training tracks:
- Intensive coaching and other short-term, specialized services culminating in direct job placement into middle and high-skilled jobs;
- Short-term training leading to employment; and
- Accelerated skills training along a career pathway that leads to an industry-recognized credential and employment.
The White House and Department of Labor have made initiatives to help the long-term unemployed a key part of their 2014 agendas. A recent White House fact sheet highlights private-sector efforts to combat long-term unemployment, one of which is the JPMorgan Chase’s New Skills at Work initiative that EMSI is taking part in.
The Need for Data
As is usually the case with training grants, the DOL is asking for data to back up each respondent’s case. On page 17 of the solicitation for grant applications, it asks for two specific pieces of labor market data (the first and fourth bullets below). On both counts, EMSI can help respondents with our current and complete employment data.
- Identify and describe the high growth industry(ies) and/or occupations targeted by the proposed program;
- Cite evidence that demonstrates that the selected high-growth industry(ies) and/or occupation(s) is one for which employers currently seek H-1B visas (refer to Attachment A for H-1B Visa Information);
- Identify and describe the skills and competencies necessary for entry into or retention in the selected high-growth H-1B industry(ies) and/or occupation(s) and identify and describe the education and training required to attain the skills, competencies, and degrees/credentials required for the selected high-growth H-1B industry(ies) and/or occupation(s); and
- Cite evidence that identifies the average, current wages offered for the selected high-growth H-1B industry(ies) and/or occupation(s), based on national, state, or local data.
It’s interesting to note that of the H1-B visas in fiscal year 2013 that the DOL included in the solicitation, 77% were in the technology field, including 27% for computer systems analysts.
Things to Know
- Applications must be sent by June 19
- Twenty to 30 grants will be awarded, ranging from $3 million to $10 million
- Solicitation for grant applications (PDF).
The following two articles are about The Workplace Inc., a workforce development board in southwestern Connecticut that has gained national attention for its program to address long-term unemployment:
- An Innovative Workforce Program for Long-Term Unemployed Gets National Spotlight
- Timely Data Helps CT Workforce Board Secure $4M Grant & Get People Back To Work
For more information on how EMSI helps colleges and workforce with grants, email Rob Sentz. EMSI data is primarily stored in Analyst, our web-based labor market data and analysis tool. Follow us on Twitter @DesktopEcon.