The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded POWER Initiative National Dislocated Worker Grant funding of $1,965,730 to the Virginia Community College System to help provide reemployment services required by coal industry workers to prepare for positions in emerging and growing fields.
The department previously announced the availability of up to $20 million in these National Dislocated Worker Grants as part of the Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization Initiative. The initiative is a coordinated effort among 10 federal agencies that makes integrated investments in communities and workers hurt by changes in the coal economy, where job losses in recent years have continued a decades-long trend.
The funds will serve approximately 210 workers affected by layoffs from Alpha Natural Resources, based in Bristol, Virginia. They will provide affected workers in a number of southwestern Virginia counties with career services and training to prepare them for in-demand jobs associated with advanced manufacturing (welding, machining, and mechatronics), and the industries of adventure tourism and outdoor recreation.
The funding complements POWER grants recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission to a consortium of economic development organizations that are scaling up the region’s tourism and recreation industry clusters. POWER Initiative NDWG funding will support regional strategic planning, focusing on the analysis/utilization of workforce information and skills mapping and assessment of supportive service needs. The funds will also help smaller suppliers affected by the coal industry downturn to make adjustments to enable the expansion of their business into growing fields. Of the $1,965,730 in funding, $1,072,000 will be released initially.
POWER Initiative NDWG awards range from $500,000 to $2 million, and support the planning and implementation of workforce strategies for regions and communities negatively impacted by changes in the coal economy. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis through June 30, 2017.