Two Agencies Receive Nearly $200K Each for Job Training

Rafael Abislaiman, of Haverhill, is executive director of the Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board (MVWIB).

Two area workforce development and community organizations will receive almost $200,000 each from a state pool of more than $2 million, to help train local unemployed and/or underemployed residents in either transportation or educational services.

The Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board (MVWIB), which oversees ValleyWorks Career Centers in Haverhill and Lawrence, will receive a $190,000 state grant “to train for jobs in transportation,” according to a statement Friday from Gov. Charlie Baker and Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Ronald L. Walker II. A second agency, Lawrence Community Works, was awarded an equal grant amount to “train for jobs in educational services.” The grants, from the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF), are to “support 14 regional partnerships between businesses, educational institutions, community-based organizations, and workforce development groups, helping prepare more than 370 unemployed and/or underemployed Massachusetts residents with additional skills and job training for in-demand occupations.” The number of grant beneficiaries in the Haverhill-Lawrence area was not specified.

“The training opportunities provided through the WCTF invest in the future and economic prosperity of individuals in need,” Walker said. “Statewide, 75 percent of the people receiving training through WCTF partnerships are unemployed, with a majority classified as low-income or receiving a high school diploma or less.”

MVWIB “acts as a broker for many services available to employers through the region’s workforce development system,” according to a statement on the board’s website. “The board also partners with other regional workforce organizations and entities, such as Northern Essex Community College, local economic development organizations (and) the area’s chambers of commerce. In addition, the board can assist businesses in contacting numerous other local training providers.” ValleyWorks, which also provides online access to unemployment insurance benefits, is located in the Student Center at Northern Essex Community College’s Haverhill campus and at 439 South Union St., Building 2, Lawrence.

“The key to the success of Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund is active involvement between local businesses, community-based organizations, education and workforce development professionals,” Baker said. “These partnerships create opportunities for the citizens of the Commonwealth and work to strengthen regional economies.”

Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund grants were last distributed in 2013, according to the labor department.

“Governor Baker’s fiscal year 2017 budget proposal would for the first time, award WCTF grants in two consecutive years,” a spokesperson said. “The governor’s budget proposal includes $4 million for WCTF, with $2 million allocated to WCTF grants and $2 million dedicated to a new Economic Opportunity Fund - housed within the WCTF – to award organizations who assist residents facing chronically higher unemployment rates than the statewide average.”

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