The U.S. Department of Labor awarded $10 million in funding to organizations that connect older Americans to career opportunities. The Aging Worker Initiative: Strategies for Regional Talent Development, is designed to train workers 55 and older for jobs in high-growth, high-demand industries, and increase the public workforce system’s capacity to effectively serve an aging worker population. The Department has also launched a private-public partnership with the Atlantic Philanthropies, which will invest an additional $3.6 million in this effort

“This grant provides opportunities for older Americans who face challenges reentering or remaining in the workforce,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. “With expanded education and skills training, these workers can broaden their own career opportunities and contribute to the growth of industries throughout the United States.”

Ten awards of approximately $1 million each were made to organizations in Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. The grants awarded target older individuals who have been laid off and are seeking re-employment; need to stay in the workforce beyond the traditional retirement age, but need training to increase their skills; and who face other barriers to employment such as disabilities or low levels of English proficiency.

As part of its investment in the Aging Worker Initiative, The Atlantic Philanthropies has funded the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning and the Council on Competitiveness to provide assistance to the grantees, and document and disseminate effective strategies to promote career opportunities for older workers.

The ability to develop, attract and retain a well-educated and skilled workforce is a key factor in economic growth. Successful applicants recognized that older workers are a valuable, though often underutilized, labor pool that can meet the workforce needs of regional economies. Currently, 22.6 percent of the U.S. population is over the age of 55. Between 2006 and 2016, the number of workers 55 and over is projected to increase by 36.5 percent.

“In the wake of the economic downturn, the impact of The Aging Worker Initiative is all the more important,” said Marcia Smith, Senior Vice President of The Atlantic Philanthropies. “This effort will create opportunities for older adults to work, support themselves and their families, and contribute to the reinvigoration of their local economies.”
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