Department of Labor Announces $150 Million Solicitation for Sector Partnerships

By Kermit Kaleba, September 28, 2020

Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the availability of $150 million in grants to support public/private “H-1B One Workforce Partnerships” to expand training opportunities in three key sectors – information technology, manufacturing, and transportation – that are being impacted by technological changes and automation. Funds under these four-year grants may be used for a range of different activities, including:

  • Implementing or expanding sector partnerships
  • Establishing new or expanding existing career pathways within target industries
  • Providing training opportunities to move workers in target industries from middle- to high-skill jobs
  • Providing support services to individuals in training; building or expanding data systems
  • Creating or leveraging strategies to sustain programs following the life of the grant.

The agency anticipates that it will award between 15-30 grants under this solicitation, with awards ranging from $500,000 to $10 million.

Eligible entities must be led by one of four applicant types:

1) Businesses or business-related non-profit organizations, such as industry or trade associations, acting as intermediaries for the target industry;

2) education and training providers, which may include community colleges, community-based organizations, and for-profit institutions;

3) entities involved in administering the public workforce system under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), including state workforce agencies, and state and local workforce development boards; and

4) state, regional, or local economic development agencies.

Regardless of which type of entity serves as the lead, all grants must support partnerships that include representatives from business, education and training providers, and workforce development entities. Optional partners may include (among others) labor- management partnerships, foundations and philanthropic organizations, faith-based organizations, and agencies administering relevant federal funding or programs.

Projects must be focused on training opportunities within the IT, advanced manufacturing, and transportation sectors, and may be operated at the local, state, or national level. Programs must incorporate career pathways as part of their overall design: while training may be provided for entry-level occupations, they must lead to employment in middle- and high-skilled occupations within the target industry. Applicants are also strongly encouraged to consider the use of work-based learning strategies such as apprenticeship, on-the-job training, paid internships, or incumbent worker training. Up to 10 percent of grant funds may be used for support services for participants, including transportation, child care, housing, and needs-related payments. All participants in training under these grants must be at least 17 years old and not currently enrolled in secondary education.

While the grants do not require cost sharing or matching, applicants must demonstrate that they will be able to leverage funds outside the grant equal to at least 25 percent of total amount requested. Leveraged resources can come from a variety of sources, and can include other federal funds – such as Pell Grants, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program education and training (SNAP E&T) funding, and federal work-study funds – if leveraged to support the project being supported through the grant.

Applications must be received by November 12, 2020; the full solicitation and supporting materials may be found here.

National Skills Coalition applauds DOL’s continued support for industry and sector partnerships, which have long been established as a best practice in helping businesses address skills shortages and helping workers advance within key industries. We urge Congress to build on these investments through further dedicated investments in these critical partnerships, including through expanded funding for transportation sector partnerships as provided in the bipartisan BUILDS Act, and funding for partnerships between community colleges, businesses, and other stakeholders as provided in the bipartisan ACCESS Act.