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Labor Dept. awards $175 million in training grants

By: Mike Verespej

September 20, 2012

WASHINGTON (Sept. 20, 3:10 p.m. ET) — Community colleges will get $175 million in federal funds in the second phase of a Department of Labor program designed to pump $2 billion into workforce training programs across the country.

“With the skills gap in manufacturing at an all-time high, and 600,000 jobs going unfilled, these grants will enable students to earn the skills they need to access and advance in manufacturing jobs,” said Jennifer McNelly, president of the Manufacturing Institute. “It will also support schools in building quality, relevant manufacturing programs that offer individuals industry-based certifications.”

Just one example: A consortium of community colleges in Florida will receive $15 million to develop advanced manufacturing learning programs.

In total, 297 schools will receive grants as individual applicants or as members of a consortium. The grants include 27 awards to community college and university consortia totaling nearly $359.3 million and 27 awards to individual institutions totaling almost $78.3 million.

“These federal grants are part of [an] ongoing commitment to ... strengthening the American workforce,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis when she announced the grants Sept. 19 at the St. Petersburg College Collaborative Center for Emerging Technologies in Clearwater, Fla.

“This strategic investment will enhance ties among ... local partners while ensuring that students have access to the skills and resources they need to compete for high-wage, high-skill careers,” Solis said. “With these monies, schools can develop training programs that will help grow the most promising local industries.”

The grants are part of a four-year Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative to promote skills development and employment opportunities in advanced manufacturing, transportation, health care, science, technology, engineering and math through partnerships between training providers and local employers.

The first $500 million in grants were awarded in September 2011.