Putting Community Colleges To Work

Career College Central summary:

  • The White House has rolled out two job-training grant programs that focus on the community college sector. Both push for closer ties between colleges and employers. The news wasn’t exactly new for the largest of the two pots of money – the fourth and final installment of a $2 billion workforce development fund. This week the U.S. Department of Labor released the application website for the last $450 million of the competitive grants, which were created in 2010.
  • The program was designed to create partnerships that last after the grants dry up. It also nudges community colleges to get creative about career services. That strategy appears to be working, as previous grant recipients have won praise for their collaboration with employers and local governments.
  • President Obama and Vice President Biden talked up the workforce money Wednesday at a campus center of the Community College of Allegheny County, located near Pittsburgh (although presumably they skipped using the program’s seven-letter acronym). They also described $100 million in new funding to encourage the creation of apprenticeships.
  • New money is rare in Washington these days. Obama was able to find the $100 million to create the American Apprenticeship Grants program by drawing from fees collected for H-1B visas. Those visas allow employers to temporarily hire foreign workers, for a fee. That money in turn must go to efforts to create new job opportunities for Americans.
  • Apprenticeships are not common in the United States. The number of active programs has declined over the last decade, according to federal statistics. About 288,000 apprenticeships were filled last year, 200,000 fewer than a decade ago. (The number of active apprenticeships climbs to 375,000 when military programs are included.)

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