All over the United States, the COVID-19 has caused chaos, and not just to people and families affected by the virus itself. Beyond just the risk of getting COVID-19, Americans have had to deal with the severe economic issues caused by the pandemic, and steps are taken to contain it. Unemployment had been at historic lows before the pandemic, but now, many businesses are closed, many workers displaced, and many wondering what they should do next. In Alabama, a new grant program may be the solution some are looking for, as Alabama residents look to take the next step after being displaced.
According to Alabama’s Department of Labor figures, over 800,000 Alabama residents have filed unemployment since March. Alabama’s unemployment rate, which was at 2.7% pre-pandemic, had risen to 13.7% during the worst parts of the pandemic. Now, the numbers have improved, unemployment has in fact dropped to 5.6%, with almost 130,000 registered for unemployment. Alabama has been awarded federal dollars through the U.S Department of Education which may provide some serious hope to Alabama’s most hard-hit areas.
Here’s what Alabama’s Governor Kate Ivey had to say about this grant award:
As governor of Alabama, I have tasked my administration with empowering business and industry to serve at the forefront of education and workforce training program development. The Alabama Workforce Stabilization Program, funded by Alabama’s Reimagining Workforce Preparation grant, allows us to operationalize our vision for demand-based workforce training by putting employers at the center of developing and delivering workforce training programs alongside our providers.”
The Alabama Department of Commerce will administer the actual funds, which will go to support Alabama’s existing Alabama Workforce Stabilization Program. This program will go towards assisting workers who have been displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 14.8 million in federal funds comes from the CARES act and is an addition to 1.9 million that had already been awarded to Alabama through this program.
Some of the goals of this program are:
- Assisting individuals who have been displaced by COVID-19 with returning to the workforce
- Helping new workers with barriers to entering the workforce enter into in-demand occupations
- Helping underemployed and low-wage workers transition into better paying, more fulfilling employment
- Help Alabama businesses to avoid layoffs, upskill current employees and develop new talent pipelines
Three institutions will deliver these training programs over the next three years: The Alabama Community College System (ACCS), the Alabama Technology Network (ATN), and Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT).