Media Highlights

Infusion of Job Training Money Coming to Community Colleges in all 50 States

by Jennifer Jordan   •  

Opportunity Nation is pleased that community colleges and other higher education institutions around the country will receive $474.5 million to expand job skills training programs that are in high demand and to strengthen partnerships with local employers. Both of these goals are essential to help more Americans gain the skills they need to get good jobs in the 21st economy and achieve upward mobility. These goals are highlighted in our Shared Plan to Restore Opportunity to Young Adults.

The U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of Education will both play a role in administering the grants, which seek to support programs in advanced manufacturing, transportation and healthcare, among other industries, and bolster relationships with businesses through 190 different programs.

Colleges must show they are able to ramp up career training programs for good-paying skilled jobs and can speed up the time it takes to complete a program and earn some sort of credential in order to be awarded the grants.

“Community colleges play a vital role in training Americans to meet the needs of employers today,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Wednesday. “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.”

Every state plus Washington D.C. will receive a portion of the competitive funds, which are the third installment of a $2 billion federal initiative to direct more resources to the country’s strained community college system.

Already, these increased federal investments appear to be paying off. In Massachusetts, for example, $20 million from the initiative is enabling community colleges to offer more robust career guidance; counseling to cope with challenges that disadvantaged students face such as transportation issues, childcare and financial planning; and job placement activities.

Labor Secretary Tom Perez said this latest round of investments “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 increased support for community colleges and job skills training falls short of the ambitious $10 billion effort President Obama laid out during his first term, but represents a significant investment in these vitally important but often marginalized institutions.

President Obama has said that every American needs at least one year of postsecondary education, and he set as a goal the U.S. regaining its position as the country with the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.

Research indicates that by that time, fully two-thirds of all jobs in the United States will require at least an associate’s degree. Unless we significantly invest in post-secondary education for more Americans, we are on target to fall short by five million skilled workers.

Read the press release and find out how much your state will receive.


Jennifer Jordan

Jennifer D. Jordan is Opportunity Nation’s Senior Writer. She shares the campaign’s mission and accomplishments and those of its coalition with diverse audiences, seeking to heighten awareness about expanding economic mobility to more Americans. Read Jennifer's bio.

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