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RCBI recently announced a new targeted workforce training initiative following the announcement of a $1.49 million grant award from the U.S. Department of Labor.

HUNTINGTON — A new workforce training initiative across the Tri-State region will be launched following a $1.49 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) at Marshall University and a coalition of partners will use the grant funding to provide services to dislocated workers, new entrants to the workforce, including students or the long-term unemployed, incumbent workers looking to improve their career prospects and individuals affected by substance use.

The coalition includes Marshall’s Creating Opportunities for Recovery Employment (CORE), Region 1, 2 and 3 Workforce boards in West Virginia, the Greater Ohio Workforce Board, Mountwest Community and Technical College, Rhema Development and Hope Nation, along with private industry partners.

RCBI officials described the program as “innovative, multifaceted, industry-driven.”

“The Advanced Manufacturing and Construction Skills Training initiative will provide the hands-on education and training needed to put people to work,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI director and CEO. “The program will target and retrain workers displaced because of the downturn in this traditionally coal-reliant region, as well as individuals recovering from substance use disorders.”

As part of the initiative, RCBI will expand the short-term manufacturing training and career skills degree and certificate programs it offers in partnership with Mountwest to train manufacturing technicians for entry-level jobs that align with the specific needs of industry, officials said. In addition, Mountwest will expand its industrial electronics offerings and provide peer recovery counseling through the Southern West Virginia Collegiate Peer Recovery Network.

Weber says the initiative also will team with the soon-to-launch Marshall/Mountwest Aviation Maintenance Technology program to offer additional certifications that not only will enhance students’ aviation education but also develop skill sets applicable across a variety of industries.

Through a partnership with Rhema Development and Hope Nation, people will be given the opportunity for immediate employment in construction while they learn to build components for prefabricated housing units, Weber said. Marshall’s CORE program will conduct training for recovering individuals and work with industry human resources teams to assist with employment re-entry for individuals completing the training programs, she said.

The service area for the initiative consists of Cabell, Wayne, Putnam, Kanawha, Boone, Lincoln, Logan, McDowell and Mingo counties in West Virginia; Boyd, Carter, Greenup and Lawrence counties in Kentucky; and Lawrence County in Ohio.

The initiative is funded through the Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities Initiative, a joint project of the U.S. Department of Labor and the Appalachian Regional Commission to align workforce development efforts with existing economic development strategies in rural communities hard hit by economic transition.

U.S. senators Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced the grant award on Wednesday.

To learn more about the workforce training options available through the program, contact RCBI’s Carol Howerton at carol.howerton@rcbi.org or 304-781-1680.

Fred Pace is the business reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Follow him at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

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