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Training and apprenticeship programs available to displaced workers paid out of the Energy Transition Act Displaced Worker Assistance Fund

The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (NMDWS) is launching Phase 2 of the Energy Transition Act Displaced Worker Assistance Program, aimed at helping people who lost their jobs in connection with the closure of the San Juan Generating Station and Westmoreland Mine. Phase 2 will be available to eligible displaced workers who have not retired and will give participants the option of choosing between a one-time wage differential payment or a program that will support training, education or apprenticeship for up to two years.

Applications for the Phase 1 of the NMDWS Displaced Worker Assistance Plan closed on November 1, 2023. Phase 2, with applications beginning November 29, is intended to connect displaced workers with new jobs and careers, while also meeting the needs of local employers.

“In the first phase of the ETA Displaced Worker Assistance Fund, over 530 individuals received a one-time payment that put over $10 million into the pockets of impacted workers to help their families and the local economy,” said Sarita Nair, Secretary of Workforce Solutions. “In Phase 2, we will work closely with employers and training providers to support career development paths for those workers who have not retired or found other good jobs. We are excited to bring the partners together to help these displaced workers find the right road to success. We are grateful to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for providing over $15 million in additional funds to support Phase 2.”

Eligible displaced workers who have not retired are encouraged to attend one of three information sessions hosted by NMDWS to learn more about the second phase of programs offered, eligibility criteria, and how and when they may apply. Retired workers who are receiving a pension or other retirement benefits will not be eligible to participate in the programs, but may still receive services through Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act programs.

Workers who remain on the job with PNM or Westmoreland for closure or reclamation activities will be eligible for the wage differential and training programs if funds are still available when their service with those employers is complete.

“A key principle behind the landmark Energy Transition Act was that as we move to a more sustainable energy future, we cannot leave energy workers behind,” said Representative Anthony Allison (D-Fruitland), who sponsored legislation that expanded eligibility for the fund. “I am so grateful to see our displaced energy workers get the funds that are rightfully due to them. New Mexico can and must deliver on our promise of a just transition to clean energy for all.”

Schedule of Information Sessions and Program Descriptions
Sessions will be held at San Juan Community College Education Center located at 3401 E. 30th Street, Farmington, NM 87402.
• November 27, 2023 at 1pm and 5:30pm
• November 28 at 9am

Wage Differential Program – Offers a one-time wage differential payment to workers who are re-employed full time but are earning lower base wages than they earned before the closures, payment is subject to taxes. Participants who choose this option will not be eligible for the Direct Training or Apprenticeship Programs.

Direct Training Program - The ETA Dislocated Worker Assistance Program will pay for up to two years of instruction to complete a training program. Participants can enroll in full- or part-time training with a New Mexico education or training provider to earn an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, certification, or short-term occupational training that results in an industry-recognized credential. Participants will receive case management, wrap-around support services, and a living stipend. Cost caps and other limitations apply.

Apprenticeship Program – Apprenticeships are “earn while you learn” programs that provide on-the-job experience and related technical instruction. The ETA Dislocated Worker Assistance Program will pay for the costs of technical instruction directly to the registered apprenticeship organization, and will subsidize the participant’s first year of wages with their sponsoring employer. Participants will receive case management, wrap-around support services, and a living stipend. Cost caps and other limitations apply.

About ETA
The ETA established the Displaced Worker Assistance Fund for New Mexico residents who were terminated from employment, or whose contracts were terminated, due to the abandonment of a New Mexico facility producing electricity that resulted in the displacement of at least 40 workers. During the 2023 legislative session, House Bill 449 expanded eligibility for the Fund by taking out the requirement that limited it to workers who had been laid off in the past year. The bill passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate and was signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on March 30, 2023.

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The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (NMDWS) oversees the New Mexico public workforce system. The department is committed to supporting the business community through special recruitment, analyzing hard to fill jobs, layoffs, job fairs, and skills assessments for hiring; and assisting New Mexicans seeking employment opportunities with job search, job referrals and placement, and customized skill development such as interviewing skills and resume writing. The department administers programs to include business services; workforce training; Unemployment Insurance; labor law enforcement; veterans’ services; and labor market information.

The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions is 85% Federally funded with ($106,960,200), and 15% ($18,543,600) financed by non-federal sources in state fiscal year 2024.
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