Birmingham City Council

Birmingham Gets Grant to Train Unemployed for Health Care Jobs

(Source: U.S. Economic Development Administration)

A $10.8 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration will go to a new initiative placing Birmingham’s historically excluded job seekers in high-demand health care positions.

The money comes from American Rescue Plan Act’s Good Jobs Challenge, a program intended to shore up “U.S. global competitiveness and supply chain resiliency, including health care, information technology and manufacturing.”

Birmingham was one of 32 recipients selected from roughly 500 applicants nationwide, said Sarah McMillan, the manager of workforce and talent development in the city’s Office of Innovation and Economic Opportunity.

“Our grant (proposal) was very competitive because we have an amazing health care sector here, and so essentially this will build on our already existing opportunities (to) connect job seekers who haven’t really traditionally had the ability to cross over and compete for those jobs,” McMillan said. “We know that 39% of the (city’s) population is not currently participating in the labor force, largely limited by access to education, access to child care, their involvement in the justice system or, just quite frankly, systemic racism.”

For the new three-year program, the city will partner with the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham to train 1,000 job seekers throughout the region, placing 800 of those “within health care or health care-adjacent roles throughout the region,” McMillan said. The RPC’s role will be largely managerial, she added, while the city “will continue to be the convener and main organizer in this.”

The city will pay $100,000 per year to the RPC for its role in the program.

Most details of the program are still under development, but Birmingham-area job seekers will be able to enroll in training programs by next spring or early summer. McMillan said she expected some of the programs would be available online, while others “could be in-person and scattered throughout the region.”