On July 23, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced the availability of approximately $125 million in new grant funds authorized for projects that provide training and placement services to help workers pursue careers within the health care sector. Eligible applicants include public entities and private nonprofit organizations. The grants are intended to fund projects that provide workers with training that will prepare them to enter and advance in the health care sector.
Earlier this year, ASCP alerted the laboratory professional training community that President Barack Obama's stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, would contain grants that prioritize training and placement for healthcare professionals in high-growth industries. To ensure that laboratory training programs were eligible for upcoming stimulus related grants, ASCP President Barbara J. McKenna, MD, FASCP, urged DOL to consider the critical role that laboratory professionals play in patient care. In 2008, a pre-stimulus $2 million grant from DOL was awarded to a consortium of universities and colleges in Minnesota to restore and build 2- and 4-year laboratory training programs throughout the state.
With regard to grants to support allied health, DOL indicated it is interested in proposals that "support recruitment, retention, and career pathways in related allied health occupations," particularly "in hospitals and in medical laboratories." Successful training programs funded through the grant program will prepare participants for employment within the health care sector, and will: (1) target necessary skills and competencies; (2) support career pathways, such as an articulated career ladder or lattice; (3) result in an employer- or industry-recognized certificate or degree (which can include a license, as well as a registered apprenticeship certificate or degree); (4) combine supportive services with training services to help participants overcome barriers to employment, as necessary; and (5) provide training services at times and locations that are easily accessible to targeted populations.
The announcement noted that "recognizing the long-term needs of workers, it is strongly recommended that training lead to portable industry-recognized certificates or degrees." The grant announcement outlined DOL's mandate that proposals "must demonstrate that the proposed project will be implemented by a robust strategic partnership" utilizing entities from the public workforce investment system, public and private employers, and the education and training community as well as other partners such as nonprofit organizations and foundations.
Grant applications must be submitted to the DOL no later than October 5, 2009. To obtain a copy of the grant announcement, please click here.