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$26 Million Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Launched Today

14 federal agencies collaborate to enhance global competitiveness of US manufacturers and create jobs

The Obama administration today announced a $26 million multi-agency Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to foster innovation-fueled job creation through public-private partnerships. These coordinated investments will help catalyze and leverage private capital, build an entrepreneurial ecosystem and promote cluster-based development in regions across the United States. This is the third round of the Jobs Accelerator competition, which is being funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration as well as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, the Small Business Administration and the National Science Foundation.

"The Jobs Accelerator Challenge is one way the federal government is helping to support the manufacturing industry, a vital source of middle-class jobs," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The innovative products developed as a result of this federal grant program will help our economy maintain its global competitive advantage, while also creating jobs at home."

"This $26 million Jobs Accelerator Challenge is yet another example of the Obama administration's commitment to supporting American manufacturers in building things here and selling them everywhere," said Commerce Secretary John Bryson. "We are so pleased to join with our federal agency partners to further strengthen the American manufacturing sector, which creates high-quality, good-paying jobs. Commerce's Economic Development Administration has a strong record of investing in regional innovation clusters that foster the job creation and business development crucial to an economy that is built to last. This challenge further bolsters our efforts and builds on the momentum we have seen in the manufacturing sector in recent months, including the 489,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs that have been added since January 2010."

Advanced manufacturing is critical to the health of the national economy and provides essential goods and equipment directly to consumers as well as to a wide range of industries, including the energy production, agriculture, medical and computing industries, and the security and intelligence sectors.

Manufacturing accounts for 70 percent of private sector research and development, and 60 percent of U.S. exports — including a record $1.2 trillion in goods exported in 2011. Over the past 25 months, manufacturers have created nearly half a million jobs — the best streak since 1995. The Jobs Accelerator Challenge is designed to assist the development and implementation of regionally driven economic development strategies that will support advanced manufacturing and cluster development. The goals are to create jobs, grow the economy and enhance the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers in the global marketplace.

"'Made in America' is making a comeback," said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. "The Jobs Accelerator Challenge is an opportunity to build on the momentum we're seeing in U.S. manufacturing and to support small businesses and local economies through regional innovation clusters. By working with other federal agencies, we can link, leverage and align our resources to give small businesses the tools they need to work together, grow and create jobs in the manufacturing sector."

Approximately 12 projects are expected to be chosen through a competitive interagency grant process. Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals that will help grow a region's industry clusters by strengthening connections to regional economic development opportunities and advanced manufacturing assets, enhance a region's capacity to create high-quality sustainable jobs, develop a skilled and diverse advanced manufacturing workforce, increase exports, encourage the development of small businesses and accelerate technological innovation.

"Through this partnership, the National Science Foundation will connect innovations from NSF-supported advanced manufacturing research with stakeholders who can accelerate technology commercialization and economic growth," said Thomas Peterson, NSF assistant director for engineering. "NSF is making available up to $1 million for existing NSF Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Phase II grantees that are part of winning projects."

The deadline for Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge applications is July 9, and guidelines for submissions are accessible at In addition to the six funding partners, the initiative is supported by eight other federal agencies: the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Education, Housing and Urban Development; the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Denali Commission; the Minority Business Development Administration; and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

New GAO Report Cites the Employment Challenges Faced by Older Workers

Long-term unemployment among workers age 55 and over has grown significantly since the recession began in 2007, according to an April 2012 report from The Government Accountability Office. By 2011, 55 percent of unemployed older workers had been actively seeking a job for more than half a year (27 weeks or more). 

The report examined (1) how the employment status of older workers has changed since the recession, (2) older workers’ financial risks from long-term unemployment and challenges in finding new jobs, (3) how periods of long-term unemployment might affect older workers’ retirement income, and (4) what other policies might help unemployed older workers regain employment and what steps the Department of Labor has taken to help unemployed older workers.

To read the report, go to


What are your thoughts about the report? 

Join the Conversation for a Women Veterans Town Hall on Twitter May 22

Join the Department of Labor (DOL) for a Women Veterans Twitter Town Hall on Tuesday, May 22 at 12 pm EDT. Follow the Women Veterans Twitter Town Hall using the hashtag #VetsTownHall.

You’ll have the chance to ask questions about resources and services available to women veterans as they return home from active duty. Officials from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will take part in the discussion, as well as special guests from John 14:2, Inc., Women Veterans Interactive, and Business and Professional Women’s Foundation.

During the chat, DOL will discuss the department’s efforts to assist servicewomen with the resources necessary to successfully reintegrate back into civilian life. Below are some additional topics that we can cover Tuesday via the hashtag #VetsTownHall:

Department of Labor (@USDOL):

  • Send the Women’s Bureau questions about the “Trauma-Informed Care for Women Veterans Experiencing Homelessness: A Guide for Service Providers,” an organizational self-assessment tool for service providers to assist them in serving women veterans. Latifa Lyles, acting director of the Women’s Bureau, will be on Twitter to answer questions about what her agency is doing to assist women veterans experiencing homelessness with community based resources.
  • Turn to Junior Ortiz, DOL’s deputy assistant secretary for veterans’ employment and training. You’ll have the chance to ask him about resources to assist and prepare women veterans to obtain meaningful careers, maximize their employment opportunities, and protect their employment rights.
  • Chat with Pamela Langley, DOL VETS division chief for employment and training programs and a veteran who recently returned from Afghanistan. She’ll join the conversation to answer your questions about where to go for assistance in looking for a new career and how to convert your military experience into civilian jobs.
  • Ask DOL’s Gerri Fiala, deputy assistant secretary for employment and training, questions about the Employment and Training Administration’s veterans’ programs and initiatives, such as the Gold Card, priority of service, and pilot with Microsoft to provide training for veterans.

 Department of Veterans Affairs: (@DeptVetAffairs):

  • Tweet the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Mary Santiago, director of the Veteran Employment Services Office to learn about VA for VETS online resources and one-on-one coaching services to recruit, retain and reintegrate talented veterans to the federal government. She can tell you about the VA for VETS hiring fair in Detroit for veterans looking for careers in the public and private sectors.
  • Chat with Dr. Sally Haskell, acting director of VA’s Comprehensive Women’s Health, Dr. Mary Schohn, acting director of Mental Health Operations, and Dr. Susan McCutcheon, national director for Family Services, Women’s Mental Health and Military Sexual Trauma. They’ll be available to answer questions about women veteran’s mental health care, screening and treatment for experience of MST and family services.
  • Check in VA’s Dr. Irene Trowell-Harris, director of the Center for Women Veterans, to learn about their mission and role in monitoring and coordinating health care, benefits services and programs for women veterans.
  • Ask VA’s Homeless Veterans Initiative Office Dr. Susan Angell, special assistant of the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs about housing and prevention efforts that assist women veterans.

Special Guests:

  • Chat with John 14:2, Inc., Women Veterans Interactive Founder and CEO Ginger Miller (@womenvetsaction). She’ll join the conversation to answer your questions about support services, housing options, advocacy and outreach for women veterans and their families.
  • Tweet the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation Mentoring Liaison Joan Grey (@BPWF4WomenVets) to learn how career mentoring can help women veterans get a boost in the job market by helping them find suitable employment and advance in their careers.

Tweet us before and during the event using the hashtag #VetsTownHall. You can also send us your questions by e-mail to before Monday, May 21 at 3 pm EDT.

Starting at 12 pm EDT on May 22, we’ll be live to answer questions submitted both before and during the event.

We look forward to tweeting you!

Teaming Up to Retrain Unemployed Vets

In a collaborative effort to help unemployed veterans find education and training services that will lead to a new job, the Department of Labor has joined with the Department of Veterans Affairs to launch the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP).  The program provides participating veterans age 35 to 60 with up to 12 months of training assistance in a VA-approved community college or technical school program that leads to an associate's degree or industry recognized certificate.  The VA will provide up to $1,473 per month in financial support.  Upon completion, the Labor Department will work with participants to help them find jobs in high-demand fields that require their new skills.   This program is expected to serve 99,000 unemployed veterans.  Veterans can apply on a first-come, first-serve basis for programs that begin on or after July 1, 2012.

For more information on VRAP, go to or

You're Invited to the
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook Webinar

Register Now

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently issued its redesigned Occupational Outlook Handbook — widely considered single the most important source of career information. DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) is sponsoring this Webinar to highlight to the workforce investment system this first Handbook specifically designed for the Internet. The Handbook will no longer be issued by the Federal government in printed form, but the new Internet version has significantly more information and visuals than prior editions.

The information in the Handbook has proven invaluable to the workforce investment system — as well as to counselors, students, parents, teachers, job seekers, career changers, education and training staff, and researchers. Each OOH occupational profile discusses what workers in that occupation do, their work environment, the typical education and training needed to enter the occupation, pay, and the job outlook for the occupation. In this Webinar, BLS staff will demonstrate the enhanced new features of the Handbook, provide tips on how to get the most from the new product, describe the sources used to compile it, explain how the occupations are selected, and answer questions.


Teri Morisi, Branch Chief, Occupational Outlook Studies, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor
Roger Moncarz, Branch Chief, Occupational Outlook Studies, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor


Kim Vitelli, Division Chief, Office of Workforce Investment, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor


May 23, 2012


1:00pm Eastern (12:00pm/Central, 11:00am/Mountain, 10:00am/Pacific)


60 minutes

Registration for this Webinar is limited and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Please register today!

Register Now

Join the Conversation on Twitter:  #Skills2PayBills on May 17

Join the Department of Labor (DOL) for a “Skills to Pay the Bills” Twitter Chat Thursday, May 17 at 3 pm EDT.

You’ll have the chance to ask career development professionals about the workforce readiness skills employers are looking for when making hiring decisions about first-time employees.  An official from the U.S. Department of Education will take part in the discussion, as well as special guests from the University of California, Berkeley and Manpower, Inc.

During the chat, DOL will discuss what young people and recent college grads need to know while preparing to enter the workforce. Below are some additional topics that we can cover via the hashtag #Skills2PayBills:

  • Turn to the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (@USDOL) to learn about the key workforce readiness skills needed to successfully transition from school to adulthood and the world of work. ODEP recently released Skills to Pay the Bills: Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success, a dynamic and engaging curriculum focused on teaching youth, including youth with disabilities, the ‘Soft Skills’ they’ll need to learn, practice, and master to succeed in a 21st century economy. Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy, will be on Twitter answering your questions about the curriculum and how all youth, including those with disabilities, can secure good jobs and thrive in our workforce.


  • Tweet Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter (@USMarthaKanter) to learn more about the President’s 2020 Goal to have “the best educated, most competitive workforce in the world by 2020.” As the Under Secretary, Dr. Kanter oversees policies, programs, and activities related to postsecondary education, adult and career-technical education, federal student aid, and the five White House Initiatives. She’ll join the conversation to answer your questions and discuss why providing every American with a quality education is both a moral obligation and an economic imperative.


  • Ask University of California, Berkeley professor Paul Hippolitus (@PaulHippolitus) about his acclaimed “Professional Development and Disability” course. As the director of Berkeley’s Disabled Students’ Program, Professor Hippolitus has a unique perspective on the challenges facing students with disabilities leaving school to enter the workforce, and the vital role self-confidence plays in this transition. You’ll have the chance to ask him about the key points of his course, and the role families, friends, and teachers play in helping all youth realize their value in the workplace.


  • Chat with Priscilla Azcueta, (@ProjectAbility) Director of New Market Solutions for Manpower, Inc., a staffing agency who provides companies with inventive solutions to address the needs of a changing and dynamic workforce. Priscilla serves as a national lead of Project Ability—a partnership that relies on collaboration with community-based organizations and vocational rehabilitation to provide workforce solutions and talent to employers. You can ask Priscilla about what employers are looking for in job candidates in the current market.

Eager to get the conversation started? You can tweet us now using the hashtag #Skills2PayBills. Beginning at 3pm EDT on May 17, we’ll be live to answer questions submitted both before and during the event.

We look forward to tweeting you!

New BLS Employment Projections and Career Guide Available Now

Every two years the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics produces a new set of national employment projections for 750 different occupations organized into 22 major groups. They also produce a broad set of supporting materials, from academic and technical analyses for researchers to career guidance materials for students and education planners. The projections data were released in February, and the final resource, a career guide for students and educators called the Occupational Outlook Handbook, was released last week.

For each occupation, the BLS reports:

  • 2010 estimated employment,
  • 2020 projected employment,
  • Percent change 2010-2020,
  • Projected job openings resulting from the creation of new jobs,
  • Projected job openings created by the need to replace those who retire or leave an occupation for other reasons,
  • Percent self-employed, and
  • Median annual wages 2010.

Along with the employment projections, the BLS assigns an education and training classification to each occupation.



HHS Releases New Online Work Readiness Tool
The Office of Family Assistance, at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has just announced the national rollout of the Web-based Online Work Readiness Assessment (OWRA) tool, a comprehensive, targeted, online resource that can be used to improve the assessment of TANF participants and other customers.
The OWRA tool, available on the Welfare Peer Technical Assistance (WPTA) Network Web site at, includes an Intake Module to capture demographics, employment, and education information; an Assessment Module to assess an individual’s strengths and barriers; a Self-Sufficiency Plan to help the participants address their strengths and barriers; and a Reporting Module to enable organizational leadership to monitor performance.
ETA Releases New Career Pathways Policy Paper
The Promise of Career Pathways Systems Change and Inititatives, commissioned by ETA and released in April 2012, gives an overview of career pathways, the six key elements framework and examples of state and local workforce investment systems that are centrally involved in the development of career pathways.
The paper can be downloaded from the Career Pathways Community of Practice at

What are your thoughts about the policy paper?  How can it help your state or local community implement career pathways more effectively?