Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 30, 2014

Workforce W.Va. gets $6M to create paths to job opportunities

CHARLESTON — WorkForce West Virginia will receive two federal grants totaling more than $6 million to train the state’s unemployed workers and to connect them to job opportunities.

The larger of the two grants, $6.1 million from the Department of Labor’s Job-Driven National Emergency Grant, will be used to provide services such as “coaching, counseling and direct job placement ... with good-paying jobs,” a media release from Sen. Joe Manchin’s office said Thursday.

The state agency will also use the funds to create and develop partnerships between workforce and industry organizations to train and place workers, the release said.

Construction and the oil and gas industries are key on the employer side of the equation; veterans will be given top priority of service, the release said.

“Too many hardworking and dedicated West Virginians and Americans across our country are still struggling to find and keep good-paying jobs because of our stagnant economy,” Manchin said. “This funding will help expand job training programs that will not only provide workers with the information they need to find job openings, but also will help them develop the skill sets necessary to fill those open positions.” The program has awarded an additional $175,000 “for recipients to participate in activities in one or more of the following areas to better serve dislocated workers:

• Increasing consumer access to training outcomes and information

• Developing more effective electronic employment tools

• Expanding employer engagement

• Enhancing customer and employer satisfaction

The second grant of $191,863 from the Re-Employment and Eligibility Assessments program, also administered by the Department of Labor, will help unemployed West Virginians find potential employment.

“This grant gives WorkForce West Virginia the necessary funding to continue helping unemployed West Virginians by providing them with the tools they need to fill open positions.”

Manchin blamed the longevity of the economic slump for the state’s workers continuing to be without jobs.

The in-person assessments at WorkForce West Virginia will include:

• Developing individual re-employment plans for each applicant

• Providing labor market information that corresponds to the applicant’s job skills, employment prospects and location

• Providing a referral to relevant re-employment or job training services

Job Centers around the country were awarded more than $68.7 million to help reduce the number of weeks unemployment benefits are claimed.

A spokesperson at WorkForce West Virginia did not return a telephone call Thursday requesting comment on the grants.

Pam Pritt is a writer for The Register-Herald.

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