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Helping Ready-to-Work Americans Get Back in the Game

Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Labor's Work in Progress blog. See the original post here.

To realize President Obama’s vision of opportunity for all, it’s all about making the right match. The way we do that is through job-driven training — connecting ready-to-work Americans with ready to be-filled jobs. It helps more people secure a foothold in the middle class and helps businesses to profit and grow.

Today, we’re announcing that we’re providing up to $150 million for states, through a new Job Driven National Emergency Grants program, to invest in programs that help dislocated workers, who’ve lost a job through no fault of their own, get back in the game. I’ve met so many people who’ve been out of work for six months or more, proud and hard-working people who’ve exhausted their unemployment benefits. Their full-time job is looking for a full-time job. They’re pounding the pavement every single day. These grants will help them find the job opportunities they need and deserve.

These grants are designed to increase the capacity of work-based training models, like Registered Apprenticeship and on-the-job training programs, which have a proven record of success. The idea is to give workers the chance to “learn and earn”, developing skills while earning a paycheck. With on-the-job training, employers who participate can actually use this funding to offset the cost of training and temporarily cover a portion of the wages for the folks they hire.

I know these programs work because I’ve seen it for myself. Vice President Biden and I were in Nashua, New Hampshire last month, where we met Elizabeth LaFontaine. Elizabeth did everything right. She got her degree from the University of New Hampshire and went to work for a financial services firm. But after eight years in the same job, she was laid off unexpectedly. She needed help finding her path forward, so she went to the local American Job Center, run by the Labor Department, and they connected her with an on-the-job training program. Now she’s back at work as a financial adviser.

Earlier this year at the White House, I met Gary Locke, also from New Hampshire. After being laid off from his video production job, he sent out 180 resumes but was still unemployed for more than a year. But we linked him up with Ben Bassi, CEO of a web development and digital marketing firm, who was looking to hire skilled workers. Gary got the on-the-job training he needed to move into one of Ben’s jobs and is going gangbusters now. This is a good example of what I like to call the “” role that we at the Labor Department play – connecting employers with job-seekers.

We’ve also launched a new online initiative called “Find Your Path” to help raise awareness of the many ways that federally-funded job training programs help connect millions of Americans with companies looking to hire and grow. It’s an easy-to-use portal featuring information on programs like the ones funded by today’s training grant and others like them, with news, success stories, and opportunities to share your story. It’s one more way that we’re setting out to make the perfect match by helping you find the path that’s right for you, whether you’re looking for a new career or looking to hire.

Follow Secretary Perez on Twitter as @LaborSec.