Competitive Grants Announced for American Job Training
On April 16, 2014, President Obama asked Vice President Biden to take the lead on investments necessary to assist individuals get trained with the skills needed to land a job. Following training the initiative strives to help hard-working Americans get placed in a good, middle class job. The first effort offers competitive grants to partnerships of community colleges, employers and industry so they can create job-driven training programs.
In order for business and industry to support state economic growth they must have qualified workers yet the "skills gap" continues to widen. Many educational reforms are in place such as college- and career-readiness standards, common assessments, flexibility and innovation. But too many industry representatives continue to lament that they can't find skilled workers for jobs they want to fill.
In addition to a focus on K-12 educational transformation, community colleges and postsecondary education are vital to meet the needs of the workforce. Hands-on learning, internships and appreticeships pave the way for job-seekers. Based on a White House Fact Sheet, 87 percent of apprentices are employed after completing their programs and the average starting wage for apprenticeship graduates is over $50,000.
A variety of new federal investments were announced earlier this month using current funding to support job-driven training that expands collaboration with business and industry. Others to be involved include community colleges, unions and training organizations that provide content and opportunities on the necessary skills for a job.
Since 2011 the U.S. Department of Labor has invested nearly $1.5 billion as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program, known as TAACCCT. With the goal of boosting the connection between community colleges, employers and the workforce, DOL is now offering an additional $450 million so community colleges can build their capacity to train employees for 21st century jobs. Applicants will be community colleges showcasing partnerships with employers, and each state will receive at least $2.25 million for career training programs. Accoring to the DOL website, the focus is on expanding best practice and scaling what's proven effective in communities to statewide partnerships.
Three key areas were identified in the White House Fact Sheet:
- Scale in-demand job training across the country through national industry partnerships;
- Advance education and training to ensure a seamless progression from one stepping stone to another; and
- Improve statewide employment and education data integration and use.