The United States (US) Government announced its plan to invest $150 million in training for middle-to-high-skilled H-1B occupations. Information Technology is one of the key sectors that will be funded. The US Information Technology Sector is the main employer of tens of thousands of Indian professionals.

To train middle-to-high-skilled H-1B workforce, the United States (US) Government announced to invest $150 million. According to the US Department of Labor, this is to help in upskilling the present workforce in the US. It also aims at training a new generation of workers to grow the future workforce.

What is H-1B Visa?

The H-1B visa is a work permit that allows foreign workers to work in an American company. The employee must specifically work in a field which requires specialised knowledge.

The employer company sponsors the H-1B visa for its employee. The employer company is responsible for the fee payment of the visa. It is also responsible for submitting the required paperwork on the behalf of the applicant. The H-1B visa is initially valid for a three year period but can be extended up to six years. Sometimes a person is allowed to extend their visas even further, depending on the type of work they are doing.

It is one of the few visas offered by the US that allows family members to join the visa holder during their length of stay in the US.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies in the US depend highly on it. The companies hire thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

According to the Department of Labor, the most important among these sectors are information technology, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing and transportation.

Donald Trump, however, froze the issue of new H-1B Visa and L-1 Visa and other temporary work permits, till the end of this year. According to the Trump government, the restriction was set to boost employment for American citizens, as a part of Trump’s ‘America first recovery’ effort.

The significance of the decision; why now?

The official statement issued by the department also mentioned that the coronavirus pandemic has not only caused disruptions in the labor market but also forced many education and training providers and employers to rethink how to deliver training.

According to the Department of Labor, the H-1B workforce grant program would be used to upskill the present workforce and train a new generation of workers to grow the future workforce.

The department’s Employment and Training Administration has set out to organise funding and resources to promote a more unified workforce system. It aims to push the applicants to provide a creative mixture of training strategies, leveraging innovative models of training delivery, including online, distance and other technology-enabled learning.

The training models will include a broad range of classroom and on-the-job training, mandatory working training, customised training, registered apprenticeship programs, and industry-recognized apprenticeship programs.

The Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training, John Pallasch stated, “The US Department of Labor is challenging communities to think as ‘One Workforce‘.

He also added, “In the current job environment, it is critical that local organizations work as one, instead of independent parts of a process. Our goal is to create seamless community partnerships to build career pathways for local job seekers to enter middle-to-high-skilled occupations in the cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, and transportation sectors.”

The grantees are set to deploy training to provide individuals in their communities with skills necessary to advance career pathways to employment in middle to high-skilled H-1B workforce within key industry sectors.

The official statement also said that, Public-private partnerships will leverage resources across federal, state, and local funding streams as well as from the private sector to support training, employment services, and supportive services to maximize access to employment opportunities.

Adding to that, these partnerships will work towards a coordinated approach to preparing a skilled workforce within an economic region. All applicants must demonstrate that they are leveraging at least 25 percent of the grant funds requested.