US announces $150 million grant for training in H-1B jobs

New York: In an effort to meet a shortage of foreign H-1B workers, the US has announced $150 million in grants to invest in training for middle-to high-skilled H-1B occupations within key sectors in the US economy.

Funds under the H-1B One Workforce Grant Program will be available to upskill the present workforce and train a new generation of workers in sectors including information technology and cyber security, advanced manufacturing and transportation.

Announcing the grant program, the US Department of Labor said through local public/private partnerships, grantees will deploy training to provide individuals in their communities with skills necessary to advance career pathways to employment in middle- to high-skilled H-1B occupations within key industry sectors.

President Donald Trump in June suspended until the yearend the H-1B and several other categories of foreign work visas coveted by Indians, who have received as much as 70% of H-1B visas over the past five years.

Indian techies, outsourcing firms and US business leaders have all criticized the move saying it will block their ability to recruit critically needed skilled workers from foreign countries.

The coronavirus pandemic has not only caused disruptions in the labor market, but also forced many education and training providers and employers to rethink how to deliver training, the Labor Department said.

In this grant program, the Department’s Employment and Training Administration set out to streamline funding and resources to encourage a more integrated workforce system, it said.

This will encourage applicants to provide an innovative mix of training strategies, leveraging innovative modes of training delivery, including online, distance and other technology-enabled learning.

“The US Department of Labor is challenging communities to think as ‘One Workforce,’” said Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training John Pallasch.

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