$170M in grants awarded to to help put long-term unemployed back to work

The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded almost $170 million in grants to help put long-term unemployed Americans back to work as part of the Ready to Work Partnership initiative. The grants, which range in value from $3 million to $10 million, will go to 23 partnerships and serve individuals across 20 states and in Puerto Rico. A few of the grantees – like the Memphis Bioworks Foundation – will support projects in multiple states.

Although the long-term unemployment rate has been falling, it remains a big concern for policymakers. Studies suggest that many of those escaping long-term unemployment are hired into temporary or part-time jobs, or in full-time positions that pay less than their previous salaries, and that the after-effects of being unemployed for a significant amount of time may last years.

“There's no question that individuals struggling with long-term unemployment are better off than they were 12 months ago, but there are still twice as many of them as there were before the recession. The constant struggle to find work has left many of them feeling discouraged and disregarded,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez in a recent press release. “The federal grants we’re awarding today are part of a series of administration initiatives designed to help encourage, empower and employ this pool of talented individuals.”

The grants awarded are designed to support innovative strategies to bring together employers, nonprofit organizations, industry groups, state commerce and development agencies and federal job training programs to help connect “ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs” and strengthen public-private partnerships.

According to the Department of Labor press release, the grants have three major functions:

Outreach and Recruitment: Grantees will work with state unemployment insurance programs, the network of more than 2,500 American Job Centers around the country, community and faith-based organizations, job clubs and other worker advocate organizations to identity and recruit participants in need of training and supportive services.

Training and Support Services: Participants in programs funded by these grants will receive job training and support services for occupations in information technology, advanced manufacturing, health care and other high-demand industries. Participants will receive a comprehensive, up-front assessment of their needs and skills resulting in customized classroom and online training that will lead them to an industry-recognized degree or certificate. Participants will also receive financial counseling, child-care support, health care and other services to help them focus on finding a job.

Placement Strategies: All projects incorporate strong placement strategies to support long-term unemployed workers in finding rapid employment in middle- and high- skilled jobs. These projects will include a designated career coach to guide long-term unemployed individuals from the assessment period all the way to job placement. Services will include resume consultation, networking coaching, social media strategies and mock interview with employers. In addition, many projects include commitments from employers to hire or interview program participants following their completion of a work-based training program.

To learn more, visit the U.S. Department of Labor