U.S. Department of Labor Awards $10 Million to Train Older Workers for Jobs in Growing Industries
The U.S. Department of Labor recently awarded $10 million in funding to organizations that connect older Americans to career opportunities. The Aging Worker Initiative: Strategies for Regional Talent Development is designed to train workers age 55 and older for jobs in high-growth, high-demand industries, and increase the public workforce system's capacity to effectively serve an aging worker population. The department also has launched a unique private-public partnership with the Atlantic Philanthropies, which will invest an additional $3.6 million in this effort.
"Older Americans are an important part of the workforce, and their skills and experience are of tremendous value to our nation," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "With expanded education and training opportunities, such as those made possible through this grant, older workers can broaden their own career opportunities and further contribute to the growth of industries across the United States."
Ten awards of approximately $1 million each have been made to organizations in Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Washington state and Wisconsin. The grants awarded today target older individuals who have been laid off and are seeking re-employment; need to stay in the workforce beyond the traditional retirement age but need training to increase their skills; and face other barriers to employment such as disabilities or low levels of English proficiency.
As part of its investment in the Aging Workforce Initiative, the Atlantic Philanthropies has funded the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning and the Council on Competitiveness to provide assistance to the grantees, and document and disseminate effective strategies to promote career opportunities for older workers.
The ability to develop, attract and retain a well-educated and skilled workforce is a key factor in economic growth. Successful applicants recognized that older workers are a valuable, though often underutilized, labor pool that can meet the workforce needs of regional economies. Currently, 22.6% of the U.S. population is over the age of 55.
"In the wake of the economic downturn, the impact of the Aging Worker Initiative is all the more important," said Marcia Smith, senior vice president of the Atlantic Philanthropies. "This effort will create opportunities for older adults to work, support themselves and their families, and contribute to the reinvigoration of their local economies."