A new state program will award $4.6 million in grants to get Massachusetts residents who lost jobs during the pandemic back into the workforce, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Thursday.
The first $360,000 disbursed through the Rapid Re-employment Grant program will go to six different organizations and institutions, which will train a total of 105 participants for in-demand jobs at designated employers. For example, Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School will receive $100,000 to train 30 individuals as pharmacy technicians, medical assistants and certified nursing assistants, with post-training placement slated for Bourne Manor, Cape Cod Healthcare, and Community Health Center of Cape Cod.
“I think one of the things that’s going to come out of this pandemic, particularly given some of the shortages that you see across almost every employer sector at this point in time, is going to be a desire to find people that [employers] can partner with to help folks reskill, upskill, whatever it might be, to make it possible for them to find work,” Baker said.
The governor made the announcement, Roxbury Community College, which will receive $45,000 to train 15 participants as pharmacy technicians. That training, conducted in partnership with MassHire Boston Career Center, will result in jobs at CVS Pharmacy for the trainees.
Other recipients in the first round of grant funding include JVS, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, Polus Center for Social & Economic Development, Inc., and Tech Foundry.
Unemployment in Massachusetts has dropped sharply since the peak of the pandemic. In April 2020, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 16.4 percent. In April 2021, it was 6.5 percent, compared to 6.1 percent nationally, with just under 242,000 members of the state’s workforce unemployed.
The new grant program launches as Massachusetts prepares to reinstate work-search requirements for individuals claiming unemployment-insurance benefits. That requirement — which returns next week, and applies to individuals who are receiving Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or are on extended benefits — was waived in March 2020.
More details about the Rapid Reemployment program can be found at commcorp.softr.io.