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Obama administration awards nearly $500 million in first round of grants to community colleges for job training and workforce development
WASHINGTON – Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter today announced nearly $500 million in grants to community colleges around the country for targeted training and workforce development to help economically dislocated workers who are changing careers. The grants support partnerships between community colleges and employers to develop programs that provide pathways to good jobs, including building instructional programs that meet specific industry needs.
This installment is the first in a $2 billion, four-year investment designed, when in combination with President Obama's American Jobs Act that would provide additional support for hiring and re-employment services, to increase opportunities for the unemployed.
"Making it possible for unemployed Americans to return to work is a top priority of President Obama's. This initiative is about providing access to training that leads to real jobs," said Secretary Solis. "These federal grants will enable community colleges, employers and other partners to prepare job candidates, through innovative programs, for new careers in high-wage, high-skills fields, including advanced manufacturing, transportation, health care and STEM occupations."
Today's announcement represents an initial round of community college and career training funds, which are being awarded to 32 grantees. The U.S. Department of Labor is implementing and administering the program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education.
"The president knows that building a well-educated workforce is critical to reviving and strengthening the American economy," said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "These grants will help community colleges and businesses work together to give students the skills they need to compete for good jobs in growing industries."
Dr. Jill Biden, a community college professor, joined the Labor and Education departments in celebrating the goals of the program, and the hard work of the grant applicants and recipients.
"The grants announced by the departments of Labor and Education today are another clear demonstration of the Obama-Biden administration's commitment to our community colleges and their vital role in fueling the American economy," she said. "Today's announcement is an important deliverable from last year's White House Summit on Community Colleges and one that will provide gateways to opportunities for many Americans."
The initiative complements President Obama's broader agenda for every American to have at least one year of postsecondary education and will help to reach his goal for America to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. Every state will receive at least $2.5 million for community college career training programs through this initiative. States without a winning submission named in this round are being contacted by the program's administrators to develop a qualifying project that will immediately receive $2.5 million.
Grants support partnerships between community colleges and employers to develop programs that provide pathways to good jobs. Efforts include building instructional programs that meet specific industry needs, strengthening technology-enabled learning, and allowing students and workers to access free learning materials online. Importantly, every community college grantee has at least one employer partner a sponsor that has jobs available and needs trained workers to fill them. Through these grants, schools will be able to expand their capacity to put more people into high-quality jobs and start new careers in fields ranging from advanced manufacturing and transportation to health care and STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – areas.
The program also is designed to have a lasting impact on higher education, emphasizing the use of evidence in program design, collection of student outcome data and conducting evaluations to build knowledge about which strategies are most effective in placing graduates in jobs. These investments, combined with the president's proposals in the American Jobs Act, will help individuals to receive the skills they need to work in high-demand sectors and provide additional pathways back to work for the unemployed.
These grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative, for which the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act included a total of $2 billion over a four-year period.
Editor's note: A list of grantees by state with project descriptions can be viewed at http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/eta/eta20111409fs.htm.