This grant program is designed to provide long-term unemployed workers with individualized counseling, training and supportive and specialized services leading to rapid employment in occupations and industries for which employers use H-1B visas to hire foreign workers. A small percentage of other unemployed and/or incumbent workers may also be served through this program. These grants are financed by a user fee paid by employers to bring foreign workers into the United States under the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program.
The main objective of this program is to provide funding opportunities that can effectively recruit and serve long-term unemployed workers, and that are built around a comprehensive, up-front assessment resulting in customized interventions across three tracks:
- Intensive coaching and other short-term, specialized services culminating in direct job placement into middle and high-skilled jobs;
- Short-term training leading to employment; and
- Accelerated skills training along a career pathway that leads to an industry-recognized credential and employment.
Within these tracks, we are especially interested in programs that include employer-based activities with an earnings component, such as on-the-job training, and other paid work experience, as well as specialized participant services that address the unique barriers facing long-term unemployed workers, such as financial counseling and behavioral health counseling.
These programs will include tangible commitments from employers and other partners to provide employment opportunities, technical skills training, and on-the-job experience and other paid work experience for H-1B occupations, while also addressing the barriers, income needs, and support needs unique to long-term unemployed workers. As a pre-condition to be considered for Ready to Work funding, all applicants must have at least three employers or a regional industry association with at least three employers actively engaged in the project.
To meet the legislative intent of positioning American workers to reduce the need for foreign workers under the H-1B visa program, applicants must design their programs to support industries and occupations in demand in their regional economy(ies) and for which employers are using H1B visas to hire foreign workers. According to recent data, a wide range of industries may meet these criteria in local and regional areas around the country.
Ready to Work grants under this SGA will focus on high-growth industries and occupations defined as those that:
- Are projected to add substantial numbers of new jobs to the economy;
- Are being transformed by technology and innovation requiring new skill sets for workers;
- Are new and emerging businesses that are projected to grow; or
- Have a significant impact on the economy overall or on the growth of other industries and occupations.
In response to industry skill shortages in high-growth industries and occupations, Congress established the H-1B visa category for non-immigrants seeking work in high-skill or specialty occupations, imposed a user fee on employers for H-1B applications, and set annual limits on the number of H-1B visas granted. ACWIA, as amended, authorized the Department to use a portion of those fees to finance an H-1B Technical Skills Training Grant Program. This grant program is designed to provide education, training, and job placement assistance in the occupations and industries for which employers are using H-1B visas to hire foreign workers, and the related activities necessary to support such training.