July 6, 2009
With the economy in dire straits, the government is boosting its funding toward educational and job training opportunities, which means there is more money for grants and other programs that cover the cost of a college degree or other educational and training programs.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is designed to save and create more than 3.5 million jobs in two years. By directing more money toward education and training, the government is investing in the future and hoping to stimulate economic opportunity. Two key components of this important act are additional funding for the Pell Grant and funding for job training programs.
The Pell Grant is awarded to more than four million students each year. Beginning with the 2009-2010 school year, the amount available to each student will increase by $500, bringing the total award a student could receive to $5,350. The Pell Grant, just like any other grant, never needs to be repaid, making it an excellent source of financial aid. This federal award is given to students in financial need and offers a significant opportunity to help cover the cost of college tuition.
Another important component of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is funding for job training. The idea behind this program is that people who have lost their jobs or may soon be laid off can learn new skills and be trained for a new career path. The funds are earmarked specifically for those who are new to the workforce as well as older workers who are having a hard time finding or keeping a position.
Nearly $4 billion dollars is being channeled toward workforce development, including:
– $1.25 billion specifically for adults who have either been laid off or have notice of an impending layoff
– $1.2 billion for youths who have been laid off
– $500 million to be used to fund training for jobs in sustainable energy industries
– $500 million to be used as state grants for employment services that target lower-income adults
Some of the funds are targeted toward teenagers for summer employment opportunities, while other funds are targeted toward workers age 55 and up who may find new employment positions with public and nonprofit agencies.
When a candidate is open to taking classes to prepare them for a new career field, vouchers to pay for the cost of courses are available. Many displaced workers may qualify to use both vouchers to cover the cost of the program, as well as credit for work experience to shorten the length of a program.
Those looking for work should find their local One-Stop Career Center. Each One-Stop Career Center is part of a federal network of over 3,000 employment offices found nationwide. The key thing for anyone looking for work to remember is to arrive at the center prepared. They should be familiar with job openings in their area, and they should think about their current skills and how they might be applied to different jobs, as well as what new skills they are open to learning.
It’s important for any displaced or youth worker to remember that the government has made billions of dollars available to them. More than 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers are located throughout the country, and any displaced employee should be sure to visit their local agency and take advantage of all of the resources available.