To combat the shortage of international H-1B workers, the United States government has announced $150 million in grants to invest in improving the ability of middle to high skilled H-1B occupations within the prime sectors in the economy. These key sectors include advanced manufacturing, transportation, information technology and cybersecurity. This investment will be utilized to upskill the current workforce as well as prepare for the future generation of the workers so these areas can grow.
President Trump in June temporarily suspended the H-1B and several other categories of nonimmigrant work visas until January 2021. Almost 70% of this visa has been allocated to Indians over the past 5 years. This move has been heavily criticized by Indian techies working in IT companies, outsourcing firms and US business leaders, stating that the administration is blocking their ability to recruit critically needed skilled workers from foreign nations.
The US Department of Labour stated that along with disruptions in the labour market, the coronavirus pandemic had also forced several employers and education and training institutes and providers to rethink the way they delivered training. Further, the statement also added that the H-1B One Workforce Grant Program is a way for the Employment and Training Administration unit of the department to streamline the funding and resources to encourage a more integrated workforce system. The department believes that such a system 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 with the skills necessary to advance their career pathways to employment from middle to high-skilled H-1B occupations within key industry sectors. The department added that the training models would include a broad range of classroom training, on-the-job training, incumbent worker training, Industry-Recognised Apprenticeship Programmes and Register Apprenticeship Programmes.
Public-private partnerships would be leveraging resources across funding streams from national, state and regional sources as well as private sector for support training, employment services and supportive services to maximise access to employment opportunities, the official statement said.
The participants need to be 17 years old or older to be eligible to get the benefit from the grant programme and also they should not have enrolled in a secondary school within a local educational agency currently. The applicants considered for training would consider unemployed or underemployed individuals who are seeking full-time work opportunities and incumbent workers who were required to upskill or update themselves to remain employable.