If you had your eye on community college news in the last couple of weeks, the headlines have been nearly impossible to miss.
On September 29, nearly 270 U.S. community colleges received a portion of the Department of Labor’s final $450 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant installment. In total, the multiyear TAACCCT program has doled out more than $1.5 billion to the nation’s colleges in support of workforce training and education. (Read more in AACC’s Community College Daily.)
Now that the euphoria surrounding the latest TAACCCT installment has subsided, program administrators are busy using all that money to build stronger links between community colleges and local industry.
We caught up with administrators at several colleges funded in this final round for a look at the impact of the TAACCCT program over the years and a glimpse into how the latest round of money is being used.
What’s been the impact of the grant program so far?
“In Round One, we were focusing on providing for people who were either unemployed or underemployed,” explains Robert Cody, dean of science, technology, math, business and workforce education at Cape Cod Community College (CCCC) in Massachusetts. His institution was part of a consortium of colleges that received a TAACCCT grant in 2011. During that round the college used the money to create job-training programs for medical coders, accounting professionals and other high-demand professions. “In the first couple of cycles, we graduated about 35 students, and most of them are employed,” says Cody. This year, the college received a $2.5 million individual grant to expand training opportunities in the aviation sector.
What will this latest TAACCCT grant installment enable your college to do?
“We are concentrating on workforce development,” explains B. Kaye Walter, president of New Jersey’s Bergen Community College (BCC). Her institution received $6.1 million as part of a consortium dedicated to expanding job opportunities for students in the health care sector. “We worked hand-in-hand with our Workforce Investment Board to ensure that we’re matching the skill sets that are needed in our community,” Walter says.
Hugo Steimcamp is a grant writer for Central Arizona College (CAC). As the leader of a four-college consortium, CAC received $3.8 million to develop stronger advanced manufacturing programs in the region. Steimcamp says the funds will help the college expand existing welding and machining training courses. “Setting up a machine shop is pretty expensive, about $200,000, which is a lot of money for a rural community college,” he says. “The grant helps us meet those expensive equipment costs. We’re also going to have a fabrication laboratory, which will allow people to fabricate products in a low-cost environment, which is pretty cool for a rural college.” For Steimcamap and the other members of the consortium the goal is to provide industry-backed curriculum “that will help our graduates get jobs.”
Chris Paynter, dean of science, technology, engineering and math programs at Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina, says his college plans to use $2.5 million in TAACCCT funds earmarked energy-sector training to digitize and modernize the college’s existing curriculum. The college plans to integrate a flipped classroom approach, “so we can take the lecture part of the content, bring it online and increase the amount of time [students] spend with hands-on activities when they’re on campus,” Paynter says.
Now that you’ve got the money, what’s the next step?
“The first few months are going to be focused on getting people [hired], like the project director and project coordinator at each site,” says Steimcamp. “There’s a lot of work to do before we actually get students in the seats for these programs.” His college is targeting a 2015 start date for technical trade program.
“The biggest piece we’re working on now is the FAA approval,” says CCCC’s Cody. The college also has to get approval from the state. “We have to submit our curriculum—down to the lesson plans—as well as all of the activities we’ll be undertaking in the laboratory component of the courses, which will be in the hangars.”
At BCC in New Jersey, Walter says she’s looking forward to expanding an already strong partnership. “We have worked with our consortium for a number of years through an [HHS Health Professions Opportunity] grant, so we will continue down that path.” The goal? “To continue to provide the workforce needed for our fastest-growing employment sector in the state.”
Did your college receive a TAACCCT grant this year? Share your plans in the Comments.