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Easley Announces New Work Force Development Program

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Mike Easley announced on Friday a new work force development program that will allow North Carolina employers to apply for grants for employee training programs.

The program is designed to upgrade employees' skills and increase companies' competitiveness in the global marketplace.

The Incumbent Workforce Development Program allows employers across the state to apply for grants of up to $50,000 for employee training. Any private or nonprofit business may apply.

"This program serves the interest of North Carolina's workers and employers by supporting access to high quality, market-driven education and skills training," Easley said. "It will provide support for business retention statewide and ensure that North Carolina has the skilled labor necessary to attract industry to our state."

The scope of available training options includes occupational-skills training to meet emerging trade-skill needs and educational training to meet workplace literacy, readiness and English-as-a-second-language needs.

Businesses must complete and submit applications to their local work force development board. The local board will then review each application and make recommendations to a review committee in the N.C. Department of Commerce that will render the final decision on funding.

"Based on the results of a work force needs study we completed last year, the skill level of workers who lost their jobs, particularly in the manufacturing sector, is not what a new and changing economy is demanding," said Commerce Secretary Jim Fain. "This program will serve as a great tool to train employees preemptively, before a possible layoff occurs."

Federal money from the Work Force Investment Act will fund this program. More than $1 million is available through June 30, 2003, and an additional $2 million has been designated for the 2003-2004 program year.

Program guidelines and the actual application may be accessed at the

Department of Commerce's web site,

by contacting a local work force development board or calling the North Carolina Commission on Work Force Development at

(919) 715-3300.

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