The US will invest $150 million in training for middle-to-high-skilled H-1B occupations in key sectors, including in information technology which employs tens of thousands of Indian professionals.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
According to the Department of Labor, prominent among these sectors are information technology, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, transportation, wherein the H-1B One Workforce grant programme would be used to upskill the present workforce and train a new generation of workers to grow the future workforce.
The coronavirus pandemic has not only caused disruptions in the labour market, but also forced many education and training providers and employers to rethink how to deliver training, the department said in a statement.
In this grant programme, the department’s Employment and Training Administration has set out to streamline funding and resources to encourage a more integrated workforce system that will push the applicants to provide an innovative mix of training strategies, leveraging innovative modes of training delivery, including online, distance and other technology-enabled learning.
Through local public-private partnerships, the grantees will deploy training to provide individuals in their communities with skills necessary to advance career pathways to employment in middle-to-high-skilled H-1B occupations within key industry sectors.
The training models will include a broad range of classroom and on-the-job training, customised training, incumbent worker training, registered apprenticeship programmes and industry-recognised apprenticeship programmes.
“The US Department of Labor is challenging communities to think as ‘One Workforce’,” Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training John Pallasch said.
“In the current job environment, it is critical that local organisations work as one, instead of independent parts of a process. Our goal is to create seamless community partnerships to build career pathways for local job seekers to enter middle-to-high-skilled occupations in the cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing and transportation sectors,” he said.
Public-private partnerships will leverage resources across federal, state and local funding streams as well as from the private sector to support training, employment services and supportive services to maximise access to employment opportunities, the official statement said.
These partnerships will work toward a coordinated approach to preparing a skilled workforce within an economic region. All applicants must demonstrate that they are leveraging at least 25 per cent of the grant funds requested, it added.