Federal Grants for Companies
A great starting point to find and apply for federal government grants is http://www.Grants.gov, which lists discretionary grant competitions from across federal government lines. In general, grants:
• Typically are awarded to companies that are hiring new employees, expanding their business, or need to upgrade their employees' skill sets to remain competitive and stay in business;
• Often go to technical skill sets (e.g., upgrading your maintenance technicians' PLC or robotics skills)
• Typically are NOT awarded for "soft skills" or for hardware (e.g., motivating your work force or to buy new computers); and
• Require "matching" funding; this usually is shown in labor hours and materials purchased.
DOL Grant Programs
Following are some of the grants being offered by the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. For more information, go to www.doleta.gov/brg/Initiatives.cfm.
High-Growth Training Initiative: Under this initiative, companies must (a) be projecting to add substantial numbers of new jobs to the economy or affect the growth of other industries; or (b) be existing or emerging businesses being transformed by technology and innovation requiring new skills sets for workers. Advanced manufacturing is one of the targeted sectors.
Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED): The WIRED initiative goes beyond traditional strategies for worker preparation by bringing together state, local, and federal entities; academic institutions (including K-12, community colleges, and universities); investment groups; foundations; and business and industry to address the challenges associated with building a globally competitive and prepared work force.
Community-Based Job Training Grants: These grants are employer-focused and build on the High-Growth Job Training Initiative. This program seeks to implement partnerships between the work force investment system, companies, and community colleges and other training providers. One goal of this program is to train new and experienced workers in identified high-growth, high-demand industries, with the aim of employing and/or increasing the retention and earnings of trained workers, while meeting the skill needs of businesses within targeted industries.
Wrapping It Up
The economic downturn that began in December 2007 was a mighty blow to U.S. workers and companies. In two years, the economy shed 7.2 million jobs, pushing the jobless rate from 5 percent to 10 percent, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
The severity of the recession has reshaped the labor market. Displaced workers, particularly those in manufacturing, are retooling their careers. They're exploring cleantech and other high-tech options, and gaining the necessary training to do so from state and federal programs, associations, and vocational schools.
Workers and companies alike must continue to rethink traditional job functions and hiring methods, and adjust to the ever-changing high-tech and cleantech world in which we live. One way to do that is for companies to get involved now in helping to mold the future work force.