Federal grants totaling $474.5 million were awarded to community colleges and universities around the country for the development and expansion of innovative training programs in partnership with local employers.
The grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program, a multiyear, nearly $2 billion initiative to expand targeted training programs for unemployed workers, especially those impacted by foreign trade, according to the Department of Labor is implementing and administering the program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education.
The 57 grants will support 190 projects in at least 183 schools in every state plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The grants will expand programs in growing industries, such as advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care.
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.
“Community colleges play a vital role in training Americans to meet the needs of employers today,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. “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.
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 the 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.
For information, visit www.doleta.gov/taaccct.
This article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue.