LA GRANDE — Northeast Oregon residents who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic now have an increased number of opportunities to get job skills training.

The Training and Employment Consortium has received two Dislocated Worker grants from the federal government. The funding is to help anyone who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic in eight Eastern Oregon counties, including Union, Wallowa and Baker.

“We are trying to make more people aware of this. We want to get the word out,” said Lynn Trice of La Grande, region program manager for the Training and Employment Consortium, which is part of WorkSource Oregon.

Money from the grants will pay for training to obtain certificates and licenses for jobs. Trice said the goal of the TEC staff is to provide grant funding to as many people as possible. Credentials in career fields with many employment opportunities include health care, building contracting and commercial transportation.

Dislocated Worker grant money also covers job training and short-term vocational training, which benefits both the employer and the employee, Trice said.

For example, if an employer is interested in hiring someone who needs additional training, Dislocated Worker grant funds can be used to reimburse the employer for part of the wages it is paying while the employee is receiving the training he or she needs after being hired. The new grants also will greatly expand the number of people it can help.

Trice said TEC is in a position to assist not only experienced workers who have been laid off but also young workers with limited job experience. TEC provides job skills training with its Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funding, which pays for a work experience program for those age 16-24 who have limited employment backgrounds. The program pays the employee directly while the individual is gaining valuable work experience.

The Workforce Innovation funding also can help people of any age who have been laid off during the pandemic and now need work experience in another field to land a new job. For example, if an employer is interested in hiring someone who shows promise but is reluctant to do so because the individual needs job training, TEC can reimburse the employer for a portion of its wages and training costs.

Additional information can be obtained by calling the Training and Employment Consortium office in Union or Wallowa county at 541-963-7942 ext. 4 or the Baker County TEC office at 541-523-6331 ext. 243.

General assignment reporter

Beats include the communities of North Powder, Imbler, Island City and Union, education, Union County veterans programs and local history. Dick joined The Observer in 1983, first working as a sports and outdoors reporter.

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