The manufacturing talent pipeline received a boost on June 24 as the U.S. Department of Labor announced it will award $183.8 million in workforce development grants to help create and promote partnerships among educational institutions, companies and trade associations.
The grants, together with the Labor Department’s announcement of plans to award an additional $100 million in grants to further promote apprenticeships, were applauded by the National Tooling and Machining Association and the Precision Metalforming Associations (PMA).
“There will be an estimated two million vacant manufacturing jobs by 2025 and the industry cannot close this gap on its own,” said PMA President David Klotz. “The federal programs announced today mean that the government is listening to our message that, for manufacturing to continue to drive the U.S. economy, this country must invest in helping manufacturers attract and train the next generation of workers. We encourage Congress to provide funding to expand these types of programs.”
The apprenticeship grants are funded through Sector-Based Strategies grants to private-public apprenticeship partnerships in, advanced manufacturing, information technology and healthcare. The grants are funded through H-1B visa fees.
These grants will support the training of more than 85,000 apprentices in new or expanded apprenticeship programs. The Department of Labor said the grants are aimed at assisting veterans, military spouses, and service members transitioning into the civilian workforce; and groups that are underrepresented in apprenticeships such as women, people of color, and Americans transitioning from the justice system to the workforce. Recipients include colleges, universities, and state systems of higher education, in partnership with national industry associations, employers representing an industry sector, and other partners. Industry partners will provide partial matching funds to the institutions to develop in-demand skills as part of these programs. To see a full list of the grants click here.
Since the apprenticeship program was expanded in January 2017, the Department of Labor says that there have been more than a million new apprenticeships since January 2017.
The Labor Department also made public a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to establish a process for the Department to advance the development of industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs) that would enable manufacturing associations and others to apply to the federal government to obtain the ability to certify apprenticeships themselves.