Some community colleges struggling with slashed budgets can rejoice, with $500 million in grants issued to these educational institutions. The grants will be provided through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative and the U.S. Department of Labor to prepare qualified, skilled workers for various in-demand industries. The initiative is part of a larger goal by the White House to expand the role of community colleges in building a workforce in America that is prepared to handle the needs of a global economy.
The grants were announced by Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, according to a press release on the United States Department of Labor website. A total of $500 million in grants will be issued to community college across the country that has demonstrated the ability to gear training programs to the needs of the area workforce. A total of 297 schools will receive grant funding, either individually or through consortiums. Schools can use the funding as needed to expand workforce programs through additional staff, resources, and learning materials.
This video offers an overview of the job training programs a community college offers.
Purpose of Job Training Grants
Solis explained in the Los Angeles Times that this funding would be used to restructure the priorities at community colleges across the country. In order to remain competitive in the new global workforce, American students must receive appropriate training for in-demand fields that are currently established or still in the development phase. This process requires a partnership between schools and leaders of the business community that hasn’t been promoted in the past.
“That’s a collaboration that hasn’t really existed,” Solis stated in the Los Angeles Times. “We saw some instances, but not often and not regularly. In the last decade, community colleges have lost sight of that. We don’t just want [students] to get a certificate for the sake of getting a certificate. We want them to get a certificate that means something that will put them in a good career path and land them a good job.”
By focusing on this area, Solis said the United States could effectively bring back jobs from overseas, which would boost the country's economic health. By the same token, training students for industries looking for qualified workers will positively impact the unemployment rate and ensure more American adults can find steady, well-paying work, even with just a two-year degree under their belts.
“Right now, in the United States, the priority is to provide people with the training and skills needed to fill jobs,” Solis said.
This video from GRCCtv offers a look a more job training opportunities.
Illinois Schools Receive $15+ Million
The Northwest Herald reports that more than $15 million will go to community colleges in the state of Illinois. The funding recipients encompass a consortium of schools overseen by William Rainey Harper College. This school is the leader in the state for the Earn and Learn Advanced Manufacturing Career Lattice Program, which is where the funding will go. The funds will be used to enhance certification and degree programs in manufacturing at community colleges across the state, including Danville Area Community College, Lincoln Land Community College, Waubonsee Community College, Joliet Junior College, Elgin Community College, and Richland Community College.
Minnesota Colleges Get $16 Million in Funding
Minnesota is another state capitalizing on its success in training up community college students for employment in the state. According to the Star Tribune, community colleges in the state received a total of $16 million in grant funding, with most of the funding going to a multi-school consortium overseen by Central Lakes College in Brainerd. The consortium offers training in manufacturing for the state’s community college students. Additional funding was offered to Hennepin Technical College for use in the school’s manufacturing assessment and advancement centers.
New York Consortium Receives $14.6 Million
Another big recipient of funding grants from the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative is New York. A consortium in this state, which consists of 30 SUNY community colleges, technical schools, and four-year institutions, will receive $14.6 million from the $500 million grant. According to the Daily News, the funding came after a push from Senator Charles Schumer (R-New York), who personally lobbied the U.S. Department of Labor to access a portion of the funding for his state’s schools. The money will be used for nanotechnology, advanced manufacturing, and biosciences training programs.
The funding is expected to train up to about 3,000 students in New York over the short term and hundreds more over the long term. The programs are currently in the developmental stages, and the funding will be used to establish permanent training programs in these industries. The schools and around 100 companies throughout the state will gain the resources necessary to produce the highly trained employees these companies currently need.
The funding recently announced by the U.S. Department of Labor will go far in establishing training programs for the future workforce of the United States. As the money is carefully allotted, states and schools that receive the funds will get the resources necessary to provide the highest quality of training possible.
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