Federal Dollars to Help Pennsylvania’s Community Colleges Train Workers for 21st Century Jobs
Laid-off or underemployed workers will now have a better chance to enter high-wage, high-demand jobs throughout the state with the help of a $20 million grant from the U.S Department of Labor, the first ever prepared and received Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges in a joint effort.
Dr. Jill Biden, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter announced the grant award today through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program. The Community College of Philadelphia will serve as the consortium leader of the grant that will help Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges to expand their capacity to meet the skill needs of state or local industries while increasing attainment of college degrees and other industry-recognized credentials.
The grant funding will support all of Pennsylvania’s community colleges in collectively responding to the commonwealth’s workforce development needs by helping each institution to rapidly produce high-skilled workers for employment in industry sectors that will define the economy of the state and the nation for years to come.
According to employers, there is a critical shortage of qualified workers to fill jobs in industries like advanced manufacturing, energy and healthcare technology. The grant will help the community colleges to work with area employers and design curriculum which will serve industry needs.
The U.S. Department of Labor says that 57 percent of those who work in a trade-related field in Pennsylvania have received only a high school diploma or equivalent and nearly 60 percent of Pennsylvania’s trade workers are 40-60 years old.
“We are excited about the potential to offer additional programming for the local community,” said Dr. Melissa Denardo, CCBC’s Vice President for Learning and Student Success/Provost.
Pennsylvania’s community colleges have already begun work on strategies and statewide procedures to accelerate recruitment, retention, credential attainment and job placement for low-skilled adults.
“The community colleges are collaborating in an unprecedented way to bring our workforce delivery and curriculum development systems to scale for achieving new levels of success with our adult students, particularly for our laid-off workers who have little chance of returning to prior wage levels without new credentials,” said Diane Bosak, executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges.
With the assistance of this grant, the colleges will begin to build programs around industries such as advanced manufacturing, energy distribution, production and conservation, and healthcare and information technology. The type of courses offered will vary regionally, based on the needs in that specific area.
“This generous funding will enable Pennsylvania’s community colleges to expand offerings and prepare individuals for 21st century jobs,” said Alex Johnson, president of the Community College of Allegheny County and the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “Fields like advanced manufacturing (Mechatronics) and energy are expected to add more than 16,000 jobs to the Pennsylvania economy by 2018, and we are very pleased that this grant will help us to respond to these workforce needs.”
Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges serve students from every county of the state. The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges is a nonprofit, volunteer membership association for Pennsylvania’s community colleges. Its members include the college presidents, members of colleges’ boards of trustees and key college administrators. The Commission represents the interests and advocates the collective needs of the community colleges to federal and state policymakers. For more information please visit www.pacommunitycolleges.org.
Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges include: Community College of Allegheny County, Community College of Beaver County, Community College of Philadelphia, Bucks County Community College, Butler County Community College, Delaware County Community College, Harrisburg Area Community College, Lehigh Carbon Community College, Luzerne County Community College, Montgomery County Community College, Northampton Community College, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, Reading Area Community College and Westmoreland County Community College.