The federal government is the No. 1 source of job training money. The feds dole the money out to state and local organizations, which then allocate the grants to various groups of workers.
Most of the money comes from the 1998 Workforce Investment Act. The law rewrote the federal statutes governing job-training programs to make it easier for state and local officials to use federal dollars to train workers [source: U.S. Department of Employee Services]. Moreover, when the Great Recession ravaged the economy in 2009, President Obama signed a $787 billion stimulus package that provided billions of dollars in job-retraining funds [source: Clark]. But the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus package, was never meant to be a long-term fix, and much of its funding has either already expired or is in the process of winding down as of late summer 2011.
The good thing about all this cash is that most of it is free. All you have to do is ask. Workers seeking to improve or learn new skills don't have to pay the money back as long as they are in training. What's the catch? None. It's in the government's best interest to put as many people back to work as possible.
The government provides most grants through local governments, community-based organizations, including not-for-profits and community colleges and technical schools. Local One Stop Career Centers administer the grants. The types of training can vary depending on the community.
However, the government isn't going to come and hand you a wad of dough. You need to spend time researching what grants might be available to help you. The government targets specific groups, such as farm workers, autoworkers, union workers, even dancers for assistance.
For example, younger workers can find help through the Job Corps, the largest job training and education program for young people who are at least 16 years old and who qualify as low income. The program offers students hands-on training in more than 100 career fields. Job Corps also helps students earn a high school diploma or a GED. For those who already graduated from high school, Job Corps helps them prepare for college [source: Job Corps].
The government also provides grants so displaced workers can attend local community colleges to learn complicated job skills [source: United States Department of Labor]. And the U.S. Department of Labor provides millions of dollars to help people transition into "green careers," including jobs in solar power and biofuel [source: United States Department of Labor].
The National Farm Worker Jobs Program helps migrant and seasonal farm workers attain new job skills in occupations that offer higher wages and more stable employment. Working with local employment groups, the money pays for classroom and on-the-job training. The program also provides support services such as child care, temporary housing and courses in nutrition [source: United States Department of Labor].
The government is not alone in providing grants for job retraining. Go to the next page to see which private foundations also offer job grant money.