Washington gets $6 million to retrain jobless workers

Funding includes $400K for Clark, Cowlitz counties

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

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The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday announced $6.175 million in job-training grants in Washington to retrain long-term unemployed workers, as part of a $154.7 million allocation to 32 states, Puerto Rico and the Cherokee tribal nation.

The program funding includes more than $400,000 for services that will be offered through the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council in Clark and Cowlitz counties, said Tim Foley, director of employment and training for the SWWDC. The organization will focus its efforts on providing classroom and on-the-job training in the health care field for at least 82 people who have been unemployed six months or longer, he said.

"It goes without saying that we are thrilled to have this opportunity to skill up the workforce for local health care employers," Foley said by email. "This industry is expecting significant growth over the next few years as baby boomers both retire from the industry and begin to require additional health care services as they age."

The training will focus on entry level and mid-level occupations from certified nursing assistant up to registered nurse, Foley said. The workforce council will be reaching out to long-term unemployed workers, some of whom have given up on job searches and are no longer connected to employment assistance programs, he said.

The money is available through the Job-Driven National Emergency Grant program. Funding should be available no later than Sept. 1, and the program will run through June 30, 2016, Foley said. Those who meet eligibility requirements may apply at WorkSource centers in Vancouver and Kelso.

Vice president Joe Biden announced the funding allocations in a Department of Labor news release issued Thursday. "The grants announced today will help build partnerships between industry, labor and communities to help more Americans learn about job openings, identify what skills are needed to fill them, and train and apply for the good-paying jobs that are out there in health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing and other high-growth industries," Biden said