DOL announces sector partnership grants

April 30, 2015

On April 29, the Department of Labor (DOL) Employment and Training Administration (ETA) announced the availability of $150 million in Sector Partnerships National Emergency Grants (SP NEGs).

ETA is interested in using the SP NEGs to support new activities to re-employ dislocated workers. In particular, ETA identifies work-based learning as a key strategy to help dislocated workers transition back into employment. ETA also emphasizes that sector partnerships must bring together a range of stakeholders including businesses, training providers, labor unions, community organizations, and the workforce system.

National Emergency Grants are discretionary funds targeted at reemployment activities for dislocated workers. Training and Employment Guidance Letter (TEGL) 31-14 explains that the SP NEGs will be awarded to state agencies responsible for administering Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Title I activities, as well as entities receiving funding for Native American Programs.  States and other eligible entities are required to partner with local workforce investment boards (or workforce development boards that have transitioned under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)) to conduct regional planning and develop sector strategies and enhanced dislocated worker services. Local boards may be clustered to align with regional areas. Applicants are further required to identify current or targeted employer partners (three or more) that represent a significant percentage of the jobs in the targeted sector. Eligible entities’ strategies must be developed to provide activities that result in employment in in-demand occupations that have identified using available labor market data.

Funds awarded may be used for regional planning and sector strategies, program services, and administration. Up to 25 percent of total funds (but not more than $500,000) may be used for regional planning and sector strategies, at least 50 percent must be used for program services, and up to 10 percent may go toward administrative costs.

Allowable regional planning and sector strategies activities include: partnership and program development; acquisition, analysis and utilization of workforce information; asset mapping and other analysis; developing regional plans; establishing social and/or peer learning networks and identifying and mapping the necessary skills and competencies for in-demand jobs. The TEGL also maps out the role of employers in the planning process, which includes serving on the projects leadership team; helping implement program strategies and goals; identifying and mapping the necessary skills and competencies; assisting with curriculum development and program design; and assisting with the design of an assessment or credential.

For the program services category, ETA has identified three tracks of interventions: (1) re-employment services; (2) short-term training and work-based learning, and (3) accelerated skills training with a focus on work based training. To that end, program services are divided into two categories: enhanced career services to dislocated workers and training and work-based training models. At least 20 percent of total funds must be used for enhanced career services and at least 30 percent of the total funds must be used for training and work-based learning models. In the career services category, ETA is particularly interested in supporting more intensive services that have declined in recent years.

ETA also identifies work-based learning as an important model for training. Training funds may be used to support a number of work-based learning strategies, including on-the-job training (OJT), transitional jobs, and incumbent worker training (IWT). IWT activities must be focused on upskilling underemployed front-line workers. ETA also promotes other training strategies such as pre-apprenticeship, customized or cohort-based training, competency-based training, and referrals to Registered Apprenticeship programs.

Eligible entities are also required to partner with at least two other federal, state, or local resources to leverage funds, refer or co-enroll participants, or otherwise develop formal partnerships.

Awards will range from $500,000 to $7 million, and will be announced prior to June 30, 2015.