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(From left) Dr. Jill Biden, U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Michael McCall, president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, discuss partnerships at Bluegrass Community and Technical College on Feb. 23.
The Obama administration used the end of a high-profile tour of community colleges this week to announce the next round of grants totaling $500 million to help train workers for available jobs.
During a stop at Davidson County Community College in North Carolina, Dr. Jill Biden and U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis—who were concluding a five-state, three-day bus tour of community colleges with innovative training partnerships with local and regional businesses—were joined by Vice President Joe Biden to announce the grants competition.
“This new round of funding will help community colleges forge new partnerships with local businesses to train workers with the skills they need for jobs available right now,” the vice president said. “I am proud to join Secretary Solis and my wife—a community college professor herself—on the final stop of the Community College to Career tour to announce this new round of support for these innovative training partnerships.”
This funding is part of the four-year, $2-billion Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program.
Funding in action
DCCC is part of a consortium of nine North Carolina community colleges previously awarded $18.8 million through the TAACCCT grant program to expand their training partnerships with local employers.
“Building a well-educated workforce is critical for the ongoing strengthening of our economy,” Solis said. “This week’s tour has been an extraordinary opportunity to meet students, educators and employers alike, highlighting how these grants bring community colleges and businesses together to give students the skills they need to compete for good jobs in growing industries.”
The resources provided by these grants—which are administered by the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education—will enable eligible community colleges to partner with businesses to expand and improve education and career training programs that can be completed in two years or less and are suited for TAA-eligible workers and other adults.
The grant solicitation is expected to be published in the Federal Register on Feb. 27. Funding will range from up to $3 million for individual colleges to $15 million for consortia. Colleges that are fiscal agents for the first round of TAACCCT grants are not eligible to apply, but they may be partners in consortia. The deadline for applications is May 24.
In September, the Labor Department awarded about $500 million in the first round of the program.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama announced that he is seeking $8 billion in his fiscal 2013 budget proposal to continue to develop partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train 2 million Americans for available jobs. The bus tour was designed to spotlight colleges with successful partnerships and to promote the president's proposal.
On Thursday, Biden and Solis visited Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) in Kentucky, where they heard from students and workforce partners. BCTC student Darah Johnson graduated high school and was stuck in minimum wage jobs when she decided to enroll in the college’s biotechnology program. After receiving a basic technician certificate, Johnson began an internship at biotech company Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals.
“I did my internship and when that was over I said to my boss, ‘I’d love to stay if you‘ll have me’ and they said yes,” Johnson said.
Jill Biden noted that a college-business partnership helped Johnson secure a better job.
“These partnerships are training workers with skills that will lead directly to jobs,” she said.
Michael McCall, president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, echoed the importance of that mission.
“In today’s economic climate, everything is about jobs,” he said.
Copyright ©2012 American Association of Community Colleges