Labor Awards Training Cash, Works with ITAA to Expand Work Force

Labor Awards Training Cash, Works with ITAA to Expand Work Force

By Gail Repsher Emery, Staff Writer

OCT. 24 ? The Labor Department late last week doled out $54 million in grant money to help train high-tech workers. On Oct. 23, the department announced a partnership with the Information Technology Association of America to help expand the U.S. high-tech work force.

The Labor Department allotted the training grants three times this year, awarding a total of $95 million. The grants are paid for with a portion of the $500 fee companies pay for each H-1B immigrant visa. The visas allow firms to hire temporary foreign workers to fill tech jobs.

The money enables American workers to get training in occupations such as computer engineering, networking and e-commerce. Two earlier funding rounds took place in March and July.

Under legislation signed by President Clinton Oct. 17, employers using the H1-B program will now pay $1,000 per visa, generating an additional $101 million next year for high-tech training programs.

Under the ITAA-Labor Department agreement, the 26,000-member Arlington, Va., trade association will help Labor Department officials better understand the technology industry's work force needs.

ITAA also will promote the importance of Workforce Investment Boards to high tech employers in addressing training needs.

WIBs are community partnerships of local industry and business leaders, education groups and local government officials that work to meet regional work force needs.

"One way to get access to training dollars is by participating on these boards," said Marjorie Bynum, ITAA's vice president of work force development.

ITAA will conduct a series of regional seminars, host a national Web cast and develop a case study of a model investment board that has successfully engaged the IT employer community in a particular region.

"This partnership helps bring high-tech employers to the table with the work force development community, and that's a situation which helps everyone succeed," said Labor Secretary Alexis Herman.

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