Some grant funding has become available to boost training programs meant to help Vermonters build careers.

For a limited time, the McClure Foundation, of Middlebury, has grant funds available to support Vermont-based college and career training programs that lead to jobs. Nonprofit and municipal education and training programs and efforts to make training programs more accessible are eligible to apply including public schools, career and technical education centers, nonprofit organizations, state agencies, libraries, colleges, and others. The awards will range from $10,000 to $60,000. A letter of interest is due Feb. 6.

“Workforce development is a current focus of many statewide efforts, like the Advance Vermont Initiative, the State Workforce Development Board, the Talent Pipeline Management Project and the Vermont Futures Project. These groups are all working statewide to identify workforce skills gaps, opportunities and promising solutions. To the extent that the McClure Foundation supports regional programs or projects through our competitive grant round, we look for them to be aligned with the strategies identified by these statewide networks and efforts,” said Carolyn Weir, senior philanthropic advisor on the Vermont Community Foundation’s Grants and Community Investments Team. She also serves as the grants and program staff for the McClure Foundation.

Founded by J. Warren and Lois McClure, the McClure Foundation promotes “equitable access to college and career education for all Vermonters” and has granted out more than $4 million since 2008 in support of that goal.

Last year, the Foundation awarded $489,000 to programs aligned with statewide workforce development efforts. The programs that received funding were geared toward eliminating barriers to post-secondary education and training. One important grant focus, Weir said, is to eliminate barriers for students from low-income families and students who are the first in their family to pursue college.

In addition, the McClure Foundation and the Vermont Department of Labor have just printed Pathways to Promising Careers, an update from a previous brochure that gives information on 62 high demand careers in Vermont. Fifty-five thousand brochures are being distributed to high schools, colleges, state agencies, counseling organizations and nonprofits across the state. There is an accompanying online webpage that lists the Vermont-based training and education programs.

The information included in the brochure and online includes data on median wages, number of projected openings and minimum education requirements. Most of the jobs require certificates, apprenticeships, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degrees or beyond. Yet, according to the Vermont Department of Labor, only 60 percent of Vermont’s high school graduates are enrolling in post-secondary education within 16 months after graduation, and for low-income graduates, that rate drops to 37 percent. This “training gap” means a lot of openings are unfilled due to a lack of qualified candidates.

“This resource reflects the enormous diversity of jobs in the state. There are tremendous employment opportunities right here in Vermont for people of all interests and backgrounds. The goal of our work is to promote the skills in demand and dispel some of the myths about our local economy,” said Mathew Barewicz, economic and labor market information chief at the Vermont Department of Labor.

According to Barewicz, electricians, nurses and web developers are just some of the 60-plus Vermont careers expected to pay at least $20 per hour and have numerous openings over the next decade. Newly updated research from the McClure Foundation and the Vermont Department of Labor show that high-pay, high-demand jobs do exist across the Green Mountain State for people of all interests and backgrounds and several jobs do not require a four-year degree, but the data reveals that employers are usually looking for training and education beyond a high school diploma.

“We’re here to bust some myths that there are no good jobs available in Vermont. In fact, there is an incredibly diverse range of high-paying jobs available throughout the state in sectors ranging from construction to healthcare to manufacturing to business and technical services,” Weir said.

“We want this resource to be a conversation starter as learners and jobseekers of all ages and interests explore career opportunities right here in Vermont. Anyone using this list will bring their own values, passions and dreams to bear on decisions about their personal career paths. We hope that this list is one of the tools that helps inform their education, training and career decisions,” Weir said.

“We envision a Vermont in which everyone has the access to the education they need to succeed in the workforce and that no promising job goes unfilled for lack of a qualified applicant. That’s why we’re thrilled to know that information about these jobs is helping students choose career pathways and helping adults build their credentials or switch career tracks,” Weir said.

Barewicz agreed. “The Division and the McClure Foundation have the same goal, that no good job in Vermont goes unfilled due to a lack of qualified applicant. Individuals interested in finding work or changing their career should visit one of Department’s Career Resource Centers which are spread across the state,” he said.

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