Promoting Federal, State and Local Incentives for Enhancing Individual Career Development

By Cynthia Gurne

If your career is helping others enter, transition or manage career development and/or change, you may be ignoring an important partner who can help you serve your clients with technical and financial aid for training and employment -- the federal, state and local government. Billions of dollars flow from the federal government to state, local, non-profit and for-profit organizations tasked with developing and managing career initiatives. Some of these programs are primarily targeting training, while others combine training and employment.


How you identify these programs and assist your clients to take advantage of the resources available can present a major challenge. The better known programs originate from the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), WOTC—an incentive program for providing employers tax credits for hiring , Wagner-Peyser Act (which created employment centers) and Pell Grants—educational funding. State and local government frequently create additional programs through their Economic Development Offices. These programs generally focus on the goal of attracting employers into high growth industry sectors where there are qualified and skilled applicants.


And, by the way, if a program doesn’t currently exist that serves your particular population, occupational specialty or employment needs, you might even be able to partner with a non-profit or public organization (i.e., community college, One-Stop Center) to seek a grant/contract for specialized training and apprenticeship programs. This option is especially true where there are local and regional skill shortages that can be addressed with specialized training. One example of this option was the creation of a technical training program for the manufacturing industry in Virginia (Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology), and another, a program designed for incumbent workers. In this program the employer gets paid to provide training for workers who might otherwise be losing their jobs.


Green has been an important color in career development over the past few years—not only because of the dollars flowing into training, but the emphasis on creating career paths in the Green Industry Sector. Programs specifically funded for veterans, youth, ex-offender, women and disabled and others are being funded in every state. The Health Care Industry has also been well funded to build a pipeline of talent to meet the expected needs resulting from an aging population and health care legislation.


Identifying Resources That Support Your Specific Role and Goals

To foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.  (Department of Labor Mission Statement)


Depending on your role and career interests, knowing where to look for information about specific career programs, funding sources and other resources can be a challenge given the numbers of initiatives being managed under different sponsoring entities. To get started however, the most important places to research are: DOL Grants and Contracts; local One-Stop Centers and State Economic Development Offices. Community colleges also have trained staff who can provide assistance in helping an individual put together a training plan with financing from a variety of resources if they qualify. The GI Bill used by both Veterans and their families has allowed thousands of people to combine education and training with a variety of work programs that result in entering paid career fields.


For additional information look for information on Welfare to Work Tax Credit or state examples of Employment Incentive Programs, Virginia and Maryland


Target Special Programs: Public Policy Initiatives Supporting Career Planning and Job Placement

The goals of the DOL are:

  • Targeted investment of workforce development resources and support for private and public sector partnerships to ensure the development of workers' skills in demand occupations based on industry need.

  • Increased integration of community and technical college efforts with business and the public workforce system activities to meet the skills training needs of high growth industries.

  • Increased opportunities for employers to use apprenticeship training as skills development methodology, combining on-the-job training and academics, to ensure a pipeline of skilled workers.

  • Providing workers with paths to career enhancing opportunities in high growth occupations.

DOL goals get translated into funded programs based on current economic profiles of national, state and local workforce information. Following are a few of the programs currently funded. Check funding for these programs. During this economic period, many programs are vulnerable to budget cuts.

  • Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Community College and Career Training
  • Green Jobs Innovation Fund
  • Transitional Jobs
  • Young Parents Demonstration
  • Civic Justice Corps
  • National/Regional Intermediary Grant in High-Poverty, High Crime Communities
  • Generation IV Reintegration of Ex-Offenders
  • Youth Build
  • For additional funding information visit: Government Grants


Knowing these programs and connecting individuals to the right person is critical in today’s dynamic workforce environment. New programs are being created daily in response to new legislation, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009, emergencies and other drivers. Having a career program funded does not guarantee its success. A common complaint is the inability to attract motivated and qualified people into the program. A second area of concern is retention once the individual is trained.


The role of the career advisor can be not only to match the individual with the right program, but to assure they have the competencies to succeed.


The Department of Labor and other funding organizations recognize the importance of providing career support to those in the various training programs. It has identified the following program support goals and objectives for a career advisor:


  1. Choosing a High Definition of Self-Sufficiency
  2. Counseling clients on income goals, career paths and work supports
  3. Employing Sector Strategies
  4. Negotiating On the Job Training Contracts and Customized Training Services
  5. Increasing Access to Work Supports

In summary, although not always easy to identify, funded programs for assisting individuals move into fulfilling careers exist. Public and public-private partnerships for building a skilled workforce exist in your community. Start learning about these programs by visiting your One-Stop Centers and building on that knowledge.



Cindy GurneCynthia Gurne is a Workforce Liaison and President of Career CentralOn-Line (CCOL), producer of on-line job fairs and career centers. CCOL also serves as a contract workforce liaison for clients in the public and private sectors. Special thanks to Howard Feldstein, Director Arlington, VA  Employment Center  for his comments.

Cindy may be reached at cbgurne@careercentralonline.com


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