The U.S. Department of Labor, headed up by former California congresswoman Hilda Solis, announced $1.8 million in grants to community-based organizations that assist women workers in acquiring and retaining non-traditional occupations. The grants will be jointly administered by the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau and the Employment and Training Administration’s Office of Apprenticeship.
In a statement, Secretary of Labor Solis said:
In the America of the 21st century, the role of women in the workplace should be defined by their training and abilities, not their gender.
These grants recognize that women can —and do — excel in a wide range of professions, from construction and manufacturing to science and engineering. The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to helping all women gain the skills and on-the-job training that will lead to their long-term success, and I am pleased that today’s announcement brings us closer to that goal.
A “non-traditional occupation” is one in which women workers make up less than 25 percent of total employees–such as construction, engineering, computer science, transportation, architecture and green jobs.
A few occupations considered non-traditional by the government in 1988 — lawyer, mail carrier, and correctional officer — have been bumped off the list, based on 2008 data showing more gender parity.
The new grants will be used to help fund apprenticeships for women entering new non-traditional occupations and is a small — but positive — step towards investing in women. Additionally, the funds will be used to train Registered Apprenticeship sponsors and support recruitment, selection and retention efforts among employers and labor unions.
A document from the Federal Register can be found here, detailing the specific requirements for applicants looking to secure these grants. Importantly, the application requires organizations to demonstrate previous experience in providing job training, placement, and support services for women workers.