PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island will receive $3.85 million under a national program to help states train laid-off workers, U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse announced Wednesday.
The Ocean State is one of 32 states nationwide receiving a share of $150 million through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job-Driven National Emergency Grant initiative. The funding, made available through the Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Worker National Reserve fund, may be used to train workers directly for available jobs, or to provide services such as job counseling, apprenticeships and job placement programs that help connect laid-off workers with jobs.
Reed and Whitehouse said in a release that the state may use the federal funds to improve workforce initiatives already underway, including public/private partnerships designed to meet industry hiring needs while also providing services and support to long-term unemployed workers.
State workforce training programs currently in development include:
Utilizing contextualized learning to train participants for welding occupations, particularly with General Dynamics Electric Boat, by expanding an existing training program to reach lower literacy individuals.
Expanding support for long-term unemployed workers to include paid and unpaid work experiences, remedial education, transportation vouchers and child care provisions.
The announcement of Job-Driven National Emergency Grant funding for Rhode Island coincided with the passage by the Senate earlier on Wednesday of the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which both Reed and Whitehouse supported.
The legislation amends and reauthorizes the existing Workforce Investment Act of 1998 with additional provisions to align workforce development programs with economic development and education initiatives, and to strengthen collaboration with the business community in implementing worker training programs.