The US Department of Labor is awarding grants of $12.4 million to train 3,000 US workers for high tech and medical jobs in areas where there are skills shortages.
The news came as California's Department of Finance announced that in 1999, for the first time in five years, more people moved out of Silicon Valley than moved in - although this was partially offset by new workers arriving from overseas.
President Bill Clinton said about the new grants: "We have a growing crisis in the technology sector because of the shortage of trained workers, with some companies looking to foreign countries to fill the gap. We have workers here who can and should be trained for those jobs. These funds are designed for that purpose."
The grants will be funded by a portion of the $500 fee that employers currently pay for each H-1B visa to bring in temporary workers from other countries. The H1-B is a six year temporary visa for foreign workers with university degrees.
Among others the grants will go to the Nova Private Industry Council in Sunnyvale, California, which will receive $1.3 million, and the Seattle-King County Private Industry Council, which will obtain $1.5 million.
The Labor Department is expected to issue another $40 million in grants over the coming months.
But according to California's latest census figures, Santa Clara County, which houses the so-called Silicon Valley, saw some 13,000 people move out of the area last year bound for other areas of the US.
This was somewhat offset by the arrival of 11,800 foreigners from overseas, however. Immigrants have been a major source of new workers for the high tech industry over recent years.
The growing number of departures is thought to be due to increasingly expensive living costs, particularly with regard to housing in the region, combined with long commutes and crowded schools.
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