WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez on Wednesday announced $474.5 million in grants to community colleges and universities around the country, including Pellissippi State Community College, for the development and expansion of innovative training programs in partnership with local employers, a press release said.
The 57 grants will support 190 projects in at least 183 schools in every state plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Pellissippi State’s grant is valued at about $4.6 million. Located near Oak Ridge in west Knox County, the community college is the leader of a consortium that received a total of roughly $12.7 million.
The grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program, a multi-year, nearly $2 billion initiative to expand targeted training programs for unemployed workers, especially those impacted by foreign trade. The grants announced this week are the third installment in a nearly $2 billion community college initiative, the release said.
The grants will expand programs in growing industries, such as advanced manufacturing, transportation, and health care, and encourage geographic and industry sector collaboration through the development of both statewide and multistate college consortia. The U.S. Department of Labor is implementing and administering the program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education. All course materials developed using these public funds will be available through the Open Educational Resources initiative so that others can access and build on successful training models. The U.S. Department of Commerce is also encouraging employers to collaborate with local colleges eligible for funding through this program.
Other members of the Pellissippi State consortium and their grant amounts include:
- Northeast State Community College—$4,569,689,
- Palm Beach State College—$1,138,183,
- Polk State College—$1,611,956,
- Randolph Community College—$1,725,174, and
- Vance-Granville Community College—$1,757,299.
The Southeastern Economic and Education Leadership Consortium focuses on the manufacturing industry. It’s a partnership of six colleges that intend to serve as leaders in integrating a regional economic, workforce development, and education partnership approach to improving the skills and employment of individuals. The six colleges in the SEELC have been specifically chosen to represent economic and demographic location diversity, and all reside in states whose governors and community leaders are working together to further economic and workforce systems change. Further, SEELC integrates an evidence-based approach to implementing a regionally-based economic, workforce and education partnership in support of the development of educational and career pathways tied to national industry standards and credentials in welding, machining and manufacturing.
The latest round of funding announced Wednesday is fostering deeper partnerships between community colleges, employers, and other community partners, the release said. This year’s grantees have more employer partners than in the past, and many of those employer partners will offer work-based learning opportunities. At least 10 of the individual grants will be focused on these work-based training opportunities, and many consortia grants will incorporate similar strategies into their programs. Strong partnerships and work-based training will help ensure that curricula and training are aligned with the practical skills and competencies industries seek from workers.
Speaking in Colorado at Front Range Community College—the lead college in a $25 million grant to a consortium of nine schools across the state focused on developing a pipeline of skilled advanced manufacturing workers—Secretary Perez said: “These investments in demand-driven skills training bring together education, labor, business and community leaders to meet the real-world needs of the changing global marketplace. These partnerships strengthen not only the American workforce, but the American economy as well.”
The initiative complements President Barack Obama’s broader goals of ensuring that every American has at least one year of postsecondary education, and that the U.S. has the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. The program is designed to have a lasting impact on higher education, emphasizing the use of evidence-based program design, collection of student outcome data, and evaluation to add to the growing body of knowledge about which strategies best develop skills that lead to good jobs, the release said.
This year’s grants also build on the administration’s goal of providing individuals with the information they need to choose education and training programs that fits their needs. The 11 single-state consortia grantees will be required to use graduate employment and earnings data to improve their programming and to create employment results scorecards that will help prospective students make informed choices about training programs.
“Community colleges play a vital role in training Americans to meet the needs of employers today,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “As our economy continues to rebuild, businesses are looking for employees with the skills their company needs to stay competitive, and America’s students and adult workers want to be equipped to fill those roles. These grants help to meet those demands, providing critical investments in education and supporting key partnerships.”
The grants include 20 awards to community college and university consortia totaling $377,452,319 and 23 awards to individual institutions totaling $61,943,218. Fourteen states and territories, which were not funded through the competitive award process, will develop a qualifying project and receive an approximately $2.5 million grant.
“For America’s workforce to be competitive in the 21st century, our workers must possess the skills employers need for their businesses to succeed. That is why employers should partner with educational institutions and government to help develop curriculum and credentialing programs at the local level,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “This round of grants has an increased emphasis on creating the types of training programs that will prepare community college students for the jobs in which they are needed, which is good for employees, employers and the strength of our economy.”
Grantees will use these funds to transform the way they schedule, sequence and deliver education and training programs that can be completed in two years or less. A variety of activities will be made possible, including: hiring or training instructors to expand capacity to offer in-demand courses or certifications, leveraging online learning to accelerate skills attainment, developing new curricula and training models to add additional classes and certifications, purchasing new equipment to ensure students train on what employers actually use, designing new programs based on the input and needs of local employers, and expanding career pathways in which stackable credentials are linked to industry skills and lead participants to higher-skill jobs.
Grantees in this round were also required to demonstrate: local labor market need for enhanced training in specific industries; strong engagement with employers in the design and delivery of training activities and work-based learning; a commitment to evidence-based program design and rigorous third-party evaluation; the use of stacked and latticed credentials; a clear plan for the transferability and articulation of course credit, application of advanced online and technology-enabled learning; strategic alignment with the workforce system, philanthropic organizations and other community partners; and the ability to leverage previously funded TAACCCT projects.
Learn more about the grant program at http://www.doleta.gov/taaccct.