Job-Training Grants Pair Colleges with Employers

By Kathy Gurchiek Oct 9, 2014

A total of $450 million in grants has been awarded by the federal government to 71 recipients who will provide U.S. workers with training for in-demand jobs.

The final installment of the nearly $2 billion Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) competitive grant program, which was created in 2011 and is co-administered by the Department of Labor and the Department of Education, will help recipients from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to partner with employers to expand and improve career training programs that can help meet the demand for workers in industries such as information technology, health care, energy and advanced manufacturing.

For example, 100,000 jobs in advanced manufacturing are unfilled because of a lack of skilled workers, Vice President Joe Biden noted during the press conference announcing the grants. Most of those jobs, he added, require certification that takes approximately four months to obtain.

“A key strategy in building partnerships between community colleges, employers, labor groups and other local leaders who work together [is] to figure out what skills local employers are looking for, to begin to design new curriculum to help students meet those skills,” he said.

These grants provide “incredible opportunities for workers and businesses,” Biden added, extolling community colleges as a means of driving economic growth and increasing employment in “decent-paying jobs.”

“What we're doing here is creating a foundation,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, in a Sept. 29, 2014, news release about the grants. “The TAACCCT program is to our skills infrastructure what the interstate highway system was to our physical infrastructure.”

Where the Money’s Headed

Twenty-five of the most recent grantees are developing training programs for information technology and cybersecurity jobs, which span all sectors of the economy.

More than 130,000 IT jobs are available in the state of Maryland. As such, the statewide Maryland Cyber-Technology Job Pathways Consortium received approximately $5.4 million to help fund a two-year degree program created through partnerships with employers such as IBM, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Rockwell Collins, Booz Allen, Medstar and a number of hospitals. The goal of the program, which has now received TAACCCT grants totaling nearly $15 million, is to graduate nearly 2,000 IT and cybersecurity students from the program during the next three years.

Likewise, approximately $5.5 million in grants was awarded in this round to the Kentucky Consortia for Information Technology Job Pathways in Computer and Medical Fields. The state’s community and technical college system is working with employers, the national American Health Information Management Association, the state’s workforce development cabinet and the state’s chamber of commerce to develop five new degree programs that incorporate 11 stackable certificates in order to train low-skilled individuals for IT jobs. Overall, the consortium has received $10 million in TAACCCT grants.

Several grant recipients are addressing regional employers’ transportation, logistics and advanced manufacturing needs. For example, Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, Ala., leads the multistate consortium called the Southeastern Transportation Network. Through TAACCCT grants totaling more than $10 million, consortium members are working to develop Centers of Excellence to prepare veterans and other unemployed individuals for work in the transportation industry.

Arizona’s Pima Community College received nearly $2.5 million to develop an industry-requested degree pathway in industrial technology that will include four short-term certificates, add new certification options to existing degree programs in welding and aviation, and update equipment to meet needs that employers have identified.

Manchester Community College in Connecticut received nearly $6 million to help scale up the statewide consortium of community colleges’ advanced manufacturing training programs. The money will also help expand the capacity of the Connecticut Advanced Manufacturing Center, which reports an 88 percent placement rate of its graduates into high-wage industry jobs. The consortium has received a total of $15 million in TAACCCT grants.

Health care was another industry the grant program targeted. The Idaho Center of Excellence Healthcare Partnership will expand the ability of its state college consortia-led efforts to train Trade Adjustment Assistance-eligible workers, U.S. military veterans and others for available jobs in the health care industry. The program’s goal is to enroll participants over three years into a series of programs that stack portable, industry-recognized credentials that lead to national certification, job placement and degrees in that industry.

See the Department of Labor’s full listing of grant recipients for more details.

Kathy Gurchiek is the associate editor at HR News.

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