US DOL awards nearly $170 Million in Ready to Work Grants

Exciting things are taking place to help the long term unemployed (LTU) in our country.  The momentum has continued since my last blog post.  On Oct. 15, the US Department of Labor (DOL) awarded almost 170 million dollars to 20 states and Puerto Rico to help long term job seekers.  These Ready to Work grants are a culmination of efforts that started in January when President Obama made a pledge to help Americans get back to work and those efforts have been strengthened by actions from DOL.  To see a list of the award recipients, click here.

There are three key features of the winning programs.  First, they provide employer engagement and paths to high demand occupations.  Second, the services are tailored to the LTU.  Third, some of the programs incorporate occupational training and on-the-job training.

Employer involvement is important aspect of this campaign to help the LTU.  Starting in January, leading corporations joined this movement and later shared their best practices for hiring long term unemployed job seekers.  To date, 80 employers have signed onto this effort including 20 members of the Fortune 50.  Even the OPM is getting involved to implement better hiring practices of the LTU within the federal government. On January 31, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum to enhance safeguards to ensure federal hiring is treating people who have become unemployed, due to no fault of their own, fairly when applying for federal jobs.

Along with this progress, the lapsed legislation of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) was finally addressed after many years of neglect, when the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was signed by President Obama on July 22, 2014.

Many of these actions above have already helped lower the unemployment rate for the LTU.  The Ready to Work grants are one more way to lower this number.  Congratulations to all of the awarded programs.   Make them count, spend the money wisely and create national models to help our country get back to work!

P.S.  If you want to read more about this topic, here is a Fact Sheet on efforts to help the LTU –

P.P.S.  This initiative has produced some resources to help employers and job seekers.  To see them, click on the Resources tab above on the main menu bar.