The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded $2.9 million to the Northern Arizona Council of Governments (NACOG) to upgrade the skills of 350 degree-holding engineers and scientists in the engineering and advanced manufacturing fields.
"This administration is committed to helping workers get the training they need to get good-paying jobs," U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said in a prepared statement
NACOG's regional director, Teri Drew, based in Prescott, declined to discuss the grant in detail because the contract is not final. She said NACOG submitted the formal contract for the grant in Thursday's mail and expects Labor to approve it next week.
And while NACOG would receive the funds, Drew characterized the grant "as a statewide project with a focus on Northern Arizona."
Drew and other NACOG officials last month conducted an open house for the Yavapai Workforce Connection, 17 federal programs housed under one roof at NACOG's office on Marina Street in Prescott. NACOG is based in Flagstaff and serves Yavapai, Coconino, Apache and Navajo counties.
Once approved, the grant funds will provide skill certifications in semiconductor processing, environmental testing, lean manufacturing (one that meets high service demands with little inventory), rapid prototyping and ultra-low power electronics, according to the Department of Labor. It also would apply to computational engineering, advanced robotics, micro-electronics, materials research, electro-optic technology and other specialties.
The grant also would involve matching funds exceeding $2 million, including nearly $15 million to be contributed by participating employers.
"This grant illustrates the kind of work-force development partnerships we are encouraging to address the challenges facing 21st-century businesses," said Emily Stover DeRocco, assistant secretary of labor for employment and training. "When businesses identify the skills their work force needs, educators and our public work-force system can be key players in preparing workers for the highly skilled jobs in high-demand fields."
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