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The program is funded through the American Rescue Plan. Its goal is to expand job training programs for 15 key sectors, including energy, health care, manufacturing and information technology.
Training biotech workers at a community college in Dallas. Promoting the indigenous building trades in South Dakota. Creating apprenticeship programs to help veterans and formerly incarcerated people secure jobs in the offshore wind industry in Maryland.
Those are a few of the projects that will receive funding through the U.S. Commerce Department’s $500 million Good Jobs Challenge. The 32 winners, announced Wednesday, will create a combined total of at least 50,000 jobs, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said.
"The goal of the challenge was to create workforce training programs in communities all over the country to help workers secure jobs in growing, essential industries and accelerate regional economic development post-pandemic,’’ Raimondo told reporters at a Zoom briefing Tuesday night. “Great things can happen when the government comes together with the private sector, educational institutions, labor [and] local organizations…to do what it takes to build a healthy, vibrant, inclusive, competitive economy."
The projects were selected from a pool of 509 applicants. While they vary in size and scope, they all aim to expand access to the workforce by focusing on underserved populations, said Gene Sperling, a senior advisor to President Biden.
The goal is not only to jump-start the post-pandemic economy but also “to ensure we have an equitable recovery,’’ said Sperling, who is overseeing the American Rescue Plan Act, Biden’s massive Covid-19 relief initiative. The Good Jobs Challenge is part of the law.
Many of the winning proposals are regional coalitions that aim to address unemployment and under-employment within underserved communities, including working parents, formerly incarcerated people, veterans, people with disabilities, rural Americans and indigenous people. Most of the training programs funded by the grants include support services, such as child care and help with transportation to work sites.
The program is administered through the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration.
“In this tight labor market, the easy-to-employ are employed,’’ Raimondo said. “What we’re doing is reaching out so every American has an opportunity to get training and a good job."
One of the programs highlighted on Tuesday’s call was a regional workforce training program in northern Nevada. Reno-based Nevadaworks will receive $14.9 million to place workers in four industries: manufacturing, health care services, information technology and transportation logistics.
“This investment is going to be vital to the growth of a diverse, well-trained workforce in northern Nevada,’’ said Democratic U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. “This funding is going to be essential...the economic development piece right after the pandemic is key for all of us as we continue to...move forward.”
A full list of the winners is available here.