West Virginia Gets $3.6 Million for Job Training

Photo by Casey Junkins A contractor works at the Boury Lofts housing development that will soon open in downtown Wheeling.

WHEELING — West Virginia added 13,700 jobs during the last year, but many are in occupations with salaries that make it difficult for workers to support their families.

A $3.6 million grant to the state’s Higher Education Policy Commission endeavors to help change this.

A closer look at data provided by both WorkForce West Virginia and the U.S. Department of Labor show the Mountain State lost jobs in coal mining, manufacturing and construction during the last year, while most of the job gains came in the service and retail sectors. Statistics indicate Ohio gained 50,500 jobs during that time frame, with Pennsylvania getting an additional 38,400.

To help West Virginia educate its workforce in an effort to create more gainful employment, the Department of Labor is granting $3.6 million to the board that oversees the state’s colleges and universities.

“These grants are part of the Obama administration’s unprecedented investment in education and training programs that have helped to create more pathways to the middle class for millions of Americans,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said. “By encouraging regional collaboration and delivering on the promise of tuition-free training at community colleges, these grants will help strengthen local communities across America, and ensure that employees and employers alike are able to compete and thrive in today’s global economy.”

According to Perez, the goal of the grant is to increase opportunities for all Americans through tuition-free training, expand employer involvement in the design and delivery of education and training programs, utilize evidence-based strategies to increase college completion and leverage additional public, private and foundation resources.

In Ohio, the workforce lost 2,100 manufacturing jobs over the last year, along with another 8,100 lost among those who handle durable goods and 1,700 lost in coal mining and logging. These numbers will soon go higher once Murray Energy Corp. closes the Powhatan No. 6 Mine., which is expected in December.

Conversely, the Buckeye State gained 12,000 jobs in educational and health services, in addition to another 11,300 jobs in leisure and hospitality.

While most states gained jobs during the year, Wyoming and North Dakota lost 10,200 and 8,100, respectively. Wyoming is a state that largely depends on the sluggish coal industry, while North Dakota lost jobs in the oil and natural gas sector.

In addition to the federal grant for job training, West Virginia and Ohio community service organizations are receiving more than $1 million to help those less fortunate this holiday season from Dominion Resources.

“While the Dominion Foundation works year-round to support worthy charitable causes, these grants are earmarked for programs that deliver the basic necessities, such as safe shelter, nutritious meals and medical care, to people in our communities,” said Hunter A. Applewhite, president of the Dominion Foundation. “It is especially fitting during the holidays that we support organizations that are improving lives and building greater stability in the places we call home.”

The Tri-County Help Center in St. Clairsville will receive $5,000 from Dominion, while Wheeling Health Right will get another $7,500.

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