Politics & Government

U.S. to give $450 million to colleges that link job-training to industry needs

The White House on Monday announced $450 million in grants to 270 community colleges that are working with employers to set up training programs for in-demand jobs in fields such as information technology, health care, energy and advanced manufacturing.

The White House says in a fact sheet that the partnerships with employers such as Exxon-Mobil, IBM and Delta will help thousands of low-wage workers get internships, apprenticeships and job skills so they can move up to better-paying jobs.

“The number of jobs are growing but the middle class hasn’t been dealt back in. And this is the time to deal them back in because there’s going to be so much opportunity,” Vice President Joe Biden said at the White House on Monday. If income inequality gets worse, studies show, economic growth will be slowed nationwide and globally, Biden said.

“The middle class is not back,” Biden said. He added that it’s not the fault of workers. “The American people are not afraid of work. They just want a fair shot.”

Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, speaking at the same White House ceremony, said community college job-training programs are key. “People are going to gets skills to get a job tomorrow and punch their way to the middle class,” he said.

Some of the grant winners are developing new training programs in information technology and cybersecurity in Kentucky, Texas and other states. In Kentucky, for example, six community colleges have formed a consortium that will expand the state’s online education system in IT for computer and medical fields. In Texas, the Veterans-Focused Engineering Technology Project will use Richland College’s existing programs to train veterans in manufacturing and electronics technology.

The White House has posted details and the full list of the colleges that will receive the grants here.

The money for helping the colleges is part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) competitive grant program. The White House said that including the latest grants, TAACCT has invested nearly $2 billion in hundreds of community colleges in the past three years.