Yesterday, the Department of Labor awarded $138 million in Sector Partnership National Emergency Grants to 27 states and the Cherokee Tribal Nation.
States will use these grants to support sector partnerships engaged in efforts to re-employ dislocated workers. States may use their grants for regional planning and sector strategies, program services, and administration. Up to 25 percent of total funds (but not more than $500,000) may be used for regional planning and sector strategies, at least 50 percent must be used for program services, and up to 10 percent may go toward administrative costs.
Allowable regional planning and sector strategies activities include: partnership and program development; acquisition, analysis and utilization of workforce information; asset mapping and other analysis; developing regional plans; establishing social and/or peer learning networks and identifying and mapping the necessary skills and competencies for in-demand jobs. The Department of Labor has also been clear that employers must be engaged in the planning process, either by serving on the project’s leadership team, helping implement program strategies and goals, identifying and mapping the necessary skills and competencies, assisting with curriculum development and program design, or assisting with the design of an assessment or credential.
States will also use the grants to use work-based learning as a strategy to help dislocated workers transition back into work. To carry out the activities of the grant, states will partner with at least two other federal, state, or local programs or agencies to coordinate services, leverage funds, refer or co-enroll participants, or otherwise develop formal partnerships.
Under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which takes effect on July 1, 2015, sector partnerships are a required activity. These grants are an excellent opportunity for states and local areas to jumpstart these efforts in a way that ensures that sector partnerships are an integral part of the workforce system moving forward.