The Idaho Department of Labor doesn't have enough money to retrain all 14,000 Idahoans who have exhausted their unemployment benefits. However, a new National Emergency Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor is a start.
"The state's training money was whacked pretty good with sequestration, so this grant provides an injection to train people," Idaho Department of Labor spokesman Bob Fick said. "Without this, we wouldn't have been able to sign up any more people."
The grant, announced Wednesday, is intended for people who were laid off and have either used up or are nearing the end of their 27-week eligibility for state unemployment benefits, Fick said.
Veterans and workers 50 years old and older also will be considered regardless of how long they've been unemployed, he said.
National Emergency Grants have been distributed to states during the past five years to help stem the rash of layoffs during the Great Recession. Many Idahoans retrained through the grants had been laid off from manufacturing and construction jobs, Fick said.
Those interested in applying for this year's training money can visit their local Idaho Department of Labor office for an interview. Staff will assess applicants' work history and skills before determining eligibility and recommending training programs.
Fick said the department will sometimes direct workers toward programs that will lead to certification in areas where they already have skills. Other times, staff will steer applicants toward new industries where they are more likely to find jobs.
"The idea is to train people to get them skills in industries that have high demand," he said.
About 200 Idahoans are currently enrolled in training programs, he said.
A total of $58 million in National Emergency Grants will be distributed to 30 states. Texas received the most with $4.4 million. Idaho received the second least, coming in above South Dakota's $418,000.
Zach Kyle: 377-6464