CHARLESTON — The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded the West Virginia Development Office an Apprenticeship State Expansion (ASE) grant. The $803,000 grant will be paid in installments over a three-year period, which officially began July 1.

“Apprenticeship programs help employers recruit and develop a diverse and highly-skilled workforce that helps grow their business, improve productivity, profitability and an employer’s bottom line,” said John Ladd, national director, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship.

The ASE grant expands on planning work done under a previous DOL apprenticeship grant. The earlier grant enabled the West Virginia Development Office, West Virginia Department of Education and WorkForce West Virginia to launch a series of Apprenticeship in Motion summits to describe the concept and benefits of apprenticeships. Participants also drafted a plan to develop more apprenticeships in the state.

The new ASE grant will help put that plan into action.

“This program would not be possible without the forward-thinking support of Development Office Executive Director Mike Graney and Deputy Executive Director Todd Hooker,” said Sharon Adams, workforce development manager for the WVDO.

“The apprenticeship program will connect skilled graduates with West Virginia employers. If businesses want quality workers, they must connect with them before they graduate and move to start careers elsewhere.”

Adams expects the first year of the grant to focus on preparing the processes and events needed for the plan. The Reverse Job Fairs introduced under the initial grant will return this fall, she said. In Reverse Job Fairs, employers visit soon-to-graduate students at their schools. Employers can meet the students and see the equipment, software and facilities with which the students are taught.

To find out more about apprenticeships, how they work and the benefits they offer, contact Sharon Adams, 304-957-2005, Sharon.L.Adams@wv.gov.

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