Labor wants Americans ready for high-tech work

The Labor Department announced last week it will offer more than $12 million in grants to train American workers for high-skilled jobs including information technology positions.

The announcement comes on the heels of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introducing legislation to decrease the shortage of information technology workers by allowing more foreign specialists to receive H-1B visas. (See "Give U.S. your tired, your poor — and your high-tech workers," fcw.com, Feb. 11).

The 21st Century Technology Resources and Commercial Leadership Act will fund the $12.4 million in grants, which will train more than 3,000 people for high-skilled positions. An additional $40 million in grants is expected later this year.

"We have to address the skill shortages and ensure that American workers have the first opportunity at these high-paying jobs," Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman said.

The Technology Resources and Commercial Leadership Act was approved last year and raised more than $75 million through the establishment of a $500 fee for temporary work visas. The money raised has been earmarked for training, education and scholarships in math, science and engineering for American citizens.

The following communities will receive portions of the $12.4 million grants:

    * Springfield, Mass.: $1.5 million

    * Sunnyvale, Calif.: $1.3 million

    * Tucson, Ariz.: $1.5 million

    * Chicago: $1.5 million

    * Seattle, Wash.: $1.5 million

    * Bridgeport, Conn.: $1.5 million

    * Philadelphia: $0.6 million

    * Concord, NH: $1.5 million

    * Landover, Md.: $1.5 million

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