A consortium of Central Valley community colleges, including Merced College, will share about $20 million in U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Act grants.
Merced College's share of the grant is $1.575 million over three years.
The grants were announced today by the US Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter.
"This is the only Trade Adjustment Act project selected for funding in California," said Merced College President Benjamin T. Duran. "We're extremely grateful to be part of this effort which will allow us to create and manage high quality training programs for our local community."The grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative, according to the Department of Labor news release.
The grants support partnerships between community colleges and employers to develop programs that provide pathways to good jobs. Efforts include building instructional programs that meet specific industry needs, strengthening technology-enabled learning, and allowing students and workers to access free learning materials online.
"Every community college in the consortium has at least one business partner with available jobs and the need for trained workers to fill them," said Cherie Davis, Merced College's director of Grants and Institutional Research. "We'll be able to train people for high-quality jobs in fields ranging from advanced manufacturing and transportation to health care and the so-called "STEM" areas of science, technology, engineering and math."
The project will allow the colleges to expand their workforce development programs and bring efficiency to the challenges of delivering services to the San Joaquin Valley's potential worker population. The project's first two years will fund the design and implement of high quality training programs.
In the third year, the colleges will expand capacity and sustainability by duplicating model programs within the consortium to other colleges that possess a pool of potential trainees and industries. Grant funds will be used increase capacity and reduce duplication of efforts by consortium colleges.Merced College will use the grant to establish a Medical Electronics Technology certificate program, a new paramedic program, and will bring alternative fuels into its existing automotive and diesel technology programs, leading to a credential in Alternative Powered Vehicle Technology.In all of the programs, the college will provide supplemental instruction and counseling to students in the programs. A special effort will be given to recruit veterans, Davis said.
The grant is the first installment in a $2 billion, four-year investment program touted by President Obama in his American Jobs Act. Today's announcement, according to the news release, represents an initial round of community college and career training funds, which are being awarded to 32 grantees. Sun-Star staff