The City of Baltimore will receive a $6.8 million workforce training grant through the American Rescue Plan to tackle unemployment resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The plan for the funds is in alignment with the Greater Baltimore Committee’s workforce related legislative priorities, as well as recommendations found in Preparing for the Future: A Regional Workforce Initiative published by the GBC in fall 2020.
According to a recent city press release, “The Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED) will use these funds to support occupational training, apprenticeships, and supportive services for unemployed and underemployed city residents impacted by COVID-19. The City will prioritize the most disadvantaged jobseekers, including people returning home from prison, opportunity youth, and recipients of public assistance.”
“The GBC has been a strong supporter and advocate for expanding and improving workforce training programs so the unemployed and underemployed can move directly from training into a job that will lead to a career and living wage,” said Donald C. Fry, President & CEO of the GBC. “Hopefully this grant will help those affected by the pandemic cross the bridge from training to jobs quickly.”
Fry said he was also pleased to see that the grant will be used for job training programs for those returning to the city from incarceration, another policy effort the GBC has been working on under its Coalition for a Second Chance program.
“Research has shown that the most effective way to reduce recidivism is to provide them with a job,” said Fry. “Many of these returning citizens want a job and are willing to get properly trained to land employment. Many make excellent hires. Using some of the grant funding for a population that faces significant obstacles to employment opportunities will yield long-term benefits for the city and those who are trained.”
The GBC has consistently advocated for legislative changes in the workforce arena that could be addressed through this type of grant funding. These include:
- Strengthen education and workforce systems to prioritize equity, accountability, and alignment with Maryland’s high-growth industry sectors.
- Support evidence-based policies and programs to promote successful re-entry from incarceration and remove barriers to employment, including restrictions on access to education and training grants and scholarships, professional and occupational licenses, and housing.
- Support policies and programs to increase registered youth and adult apprenticeships and internships.
- Advocate for increased funding for key workforce programs including Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN), registered apprenticeships for youth and adults, and Workforce Sequence Scholarships.
“The Greater Baltimore Committee looks forward to working with city officials as they determine the best allocation of grant funding to address mutual goals and priorities for workforce training education,” said Fry.