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US: New money for community colleges providing “pathways to good jobs”

On 26 September, community college consortia in 39 states plus the District of Columbia were declared the ‘lucky winners’ of new funding through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative. This initiative was announced at the start of this year (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, January 2011) and is implemented jointly by the Departments of Labor and Education. As part of a broader national agenda for short-term economic recovery and longer-term global competitiveness, the funding tied to this initiative is designed to support job training and workforce development. Specifically, the goal is to encourage innovative educational approaches by community colleges in tandem with collaborative relationships between community colleges and employers.

Over the next four years, the initiative is expected to distribute a total of USD 2 billion (EUR 1.5 billion), with each state promised to receive at a minimum USD 2.5 million (EUR 1.9 million). In this first installment, approximately USD 500 million (EUR 371 million) was allocated to 62 consortia across the country, each of which includes at least one partner from industry. Those states which failed to win any of these monies in this first round are now being contacted by the programme’s administrators to develop a qualifying project that can be funded.

Beyond the hoped-for immediate effects in the way of providing “pathways to good jobs” for many unemployed and underemployed Americans, the programme also aims to have a more enduring effect on in US community college circles, by virtue of encouraging the use of “evidence in program design, collection of student outcome data and conducting evaluations to build knowledge about which strategies are most effective in placing graduates in jobs”. This “lasting impact” can only be realised, however, if the remaining USD 1.5 billion (EUR 1.1 billion) for the initiative survives the annual budget struggle in Washington over the next three years.

US Department of Education US Department of Labor