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$3 million grant helping retrain jobless

The U.S. Department of Labor is sending $3 million to Wichita to pay for worker training, the second installment in a previously announced $7.5 million federal grant.

The money will continue to pay 1,100 laid-off workers, mostly former aircraft workers, to be retrained in jobs with higher demand.

Fields in demand include health care, information technology, automobile repair and composites manufacturing, said Kimberly Cronister, spokeswoman for the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas, which administers the program.

The bulk of the ex-workers and money go to Wichita Area Technical College, with lesser amounts to other schools in the area.

The demand for aircraft airframe and powerplant mechanics has tailed off so much in recent months that it has been taken off the list of "in-demand jobs" for now, Cronister said.

The overall grant was awarded in February, with an initial $2.2 million. A third amount will be released as the current installment is spent.

"It is important that these workers have ongoing support as they seek out new jobs in promising regional industries," U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said in a statement. "Helping workers who lose jobs through no fault of their own is good for the economy and simply the right thing to do."

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