When Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao announced the second production of WIRED grants, she stated, “Investing in area workforces through this collaborative approach will boost entire regions’ economic vitality.” WIRED, or Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development Initiative, is one of the efforts of the Dept of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration is making to help the economy. One of the major motivations if the Department of Labor to run the WIRED grants program is keeping job skills up to date and viable in the changing job market.
Secretary Chao went on to say, “This regional economic development strategy transcends political boundaries to better leverage a region’s assets to help workers succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy.”
The third generation of WIRED grants was newly announced by the Department of Labor. In a prior round, awards went to the Wyoming/Arkansas Delta area, the Delaware Valley, and northern California along with a few others.
Receiving a Wyoming unemployment grant would of course greatly benefit the state. The WIRED grants program is extremely competitive, and with all regions competing, there is always the chance that it might not happen. Everyone hopes for the chance to help their local economy improve.
The state governor is in charge of overseeing the grant proposals that are being submitted for the program. Secretary Chao sent announcement letters out to each governor in the country. Each state has the chance to submit up to two proposals at up to $5 million a piece. Sources of complementary funding from the state, region, or private organizations should be outlined in each proposal.
The Department of Labor has thus far invested $260 million in 26 regions across the United States. Ten federal agencies have cooperated to create high skill and high wage job opportunities through the WIRED Initiative program. The WIRED grants program is in favor of pioneering approaches to economic development. Approaches to workforce training that go beyond traditional strategies, such as WIRED, help prepare workers to compete in the job market.
“The WIRED Initiative recognizes that local economies often do not neatly conform to geographic boundaries,” US Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said in a recent speech. Secretary Chao made this speech while announcing that the competition for the third round of WIRED grants has officially begun.
WIRED stands for the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development Initiative. The third generation of WIRED grants was recently launched by the U.S. Dept. of Labor.
A Wyoming unemployment grant under the WIRED program would be great news for parts of the state that have traditionally suffered from higher unemployment. One of the second generation of WIRED grants was awarded to Northern Indiana, an area with a history of limited job opportunities. A similar grant to Wyoming would help many people.
“WIRED brings together universities, businesses, community colleges, foundations and economic development organizations to help equip regional workforces with the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy,” said Secretary Chao. She was referring to the fact that up to 50% of WIRED grant funds must be provided by private, regional or state monies. The remaining funds come from the federal government.
The WIRED initiative can empower local economies and reduce regional unemployment. The unemployment rate throughout the nation hovers around 4%, but some areas experience higher rates of unemployment. The goals of the WIRED grants are to increase unemployment and stimulate regional economies in those areas.
An unemployment rate below 5% is technically considered a labor shortage. Currently, the unemployment rate for highly skilled employees is about 1.9% nationwide.
The first WIRED grants were awarded by the U.S. Labor Department in February 2006, after a highly-competitive grant process. At that time, 13 regions were selected to receive grants. The purpose of the grants is to reduce unemployment and boost regional economies.
The current, third-generation WIRED grants competition is open to all states and territories. The Secretary of Labor sent a letter to each governor, outlining the conditions of the WIRED program. The governors must approve the WIRED grant proposals presented by their state. Each governor can submit up to two projects. Each grant can be for any amount up to $5 million.
The newly expanded Wyoming Drug Free Workplace Alliance is working to address the impact that alcohol and drug abuse have on worker safety. As the US Department of Labor’s first agreement to try to keep workers safe by preventing drug abuse, the Alliance was created in 2004.
Since the focus is on the construction and mining industries, representative from 5 labor unions and 5 contractor associations were present at the signing ceremony. The ceremony took place at the US Census Bureau, and Elaine Chao, Secretary of Labor, was present.
The Wyoming Drug Free Workplace Alliance tries to help businesses deal with the issue of drug abuse. Abuse costs the nation’s businesses dearly. Alcohol and drug abuse result in a higher level of absenteeism, plus more accidents and mistakes. The problem also can result in employee morale that is low and an increase in employee illnesses. Moreover, OSHA maintains that alcohol and drug abuse are involved in many of the workplace accidents that result in fatalities.
To combat the problem of alcohol and drug abuse, the U.S. Department of Labor tries to raise awareness of the impact the problem has on the workplace. To help protect employees, the alliance will provide information on creating a drug-free workplace.
By educating employees on the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse, employers have the power to help keep their businesses safe. In addition, employees suffering from alcohol and drug abuse problems should be encouraged to take advantage of available help. Some companies also use random drug tests, along with pre-employment drug screenings, as other ways to create a drug-free workplace.
The US Department of Labor maintains, “only by addressing drug and alcohol abuse among the entire workforce—those currently employed and those preparing to enter employment—can a drug-free American workforce be achieved.”
The Secretary of Labor is committed to protecting workers by working together with the unions and the contractor associations. Chao, along with union leaders and leaders from the building contractor associations, are doing all they can to combat this serious problem.
People living and working in Wyoming are famous for their rugged pioneer spirit and individuality. This spirit carries through to Wyoming’s state government, too.
One such example of Wyoming’s governmental independence is the establishment of WYOSHA, or the Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration. WYOSHA is a regulatory agency that is instrumental in establishing safety procedures and standards for every worker in the private sector in Wyoming. It mirrors the federally mandated program in place elsewhere and must maintain federal approval to remain operational.
The United States has the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to establish safety standards and regulations throughout much of the country but Wyoming is one of 22 states that have chosen to establish its own such agency. Most state-run OSHA programs meet the federal guidelines but some states exceed them in standards or scope of coverage.
Programs in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and the US Virgin Islands cover private business employees as well as those workers employed in local, state, and federal government positions and employees of non-profit agencies. California has chosen to address safety issues not included in the federal OSHA program.
In addition to increased worker safety by use of strict standards and safety procedures, these programs also provide training and education programs, on-site consultation, appropriate legislation, and enough qualified enforcement personnel to maintain the program. These state and federal programs all have procedures in place to set and enforce standards as well as assess penalties for violations. An appeal process is also established to resolve any disputes that may arise.
One sign that WYOSHA is working at your job is the display of the Wyoming OSHA 300 form. State and federal law requires this form to be displayed prominently in every workplace from February 1 through April 30. It lists all safety-related incidents occurring the previous year in an effort to identify problem areas and make your job safer in the future.
Many employers have questions regarding the Wyoming OSHA 300 form. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates that employers post the 300A form from February 1 to April 30, 2007.
The purpose of the OSHA 300 log is to review accidents that occurred in 2006, with an emphasis on preventing future problems. Recognize the value of illness prevention in reducing and preventing job-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. It’s important for employers to communicate to employees with an OSHA Safety Communication poster that meets all of OSHA’s mandatory posting requirements. Displaying the mandated poster may protect the company from fines. It is also likely to protect employees from job-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.
Each employer is required to display posters on safety and health including the OSHA 300 poster, and the OSHA- It’s the Law poster. In 24 states, an OSHA-approved state agency replaces OSHA. In those states, employers should display a state poster instead of (or in addition to) the OSHA poster.
According to OSHA, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees, including displaying an OSHA –It’s the Law Poster. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is charged with assuring the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health.
Many employers are unaware that failure to prominently display the OSHA 300 poster and the 2007 OSHA poster– Job Safety and Health Protection in a work area is a serious OSHA violation. Employers who fail to meet state and federal mandatory posting standards can be cited and fined by OSHA.
A key factor in increasing safety awareness is complying with the mandatory OSHA 300 log poster standards. According to an OSHA booklet, “Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA’s role is to assure the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.