Franken, Miller introduce community college bill.

July 12, 2013

Recently, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) introduced legislation to help community colleges address the skills gap in their local areas by organizing or expanding industry driven partnerships. Representative George Miller (D-CA), Ranking Member on the House Education and Workforce Committee, introduced the companion bill in the House. National Skills Coalition wrote to Senator Franken and Representative Miller expressing support for their legislation.

The $8 billion Community College to Career Fund Act (S. 1269, H.R. 2560) would dedicate $7 billion to a competitive industry partnerships grant program to develop and expand upon partnerships between employers and community colleges. An additional $1 billion would be committed to other employment-related grant programs, including a “Pay for Performance” grant program; a “Pay for Success” grant program; a “Bring Jobs Back to America” grant program to provide funds to state and local governments to support activities to either retain existing businesses or to bring new businesses to a local area or region; and grants for entrepreneur and small business start-up training. The grant programs would be administered jointly by the Secretaries of Labor and Education.

Grants would be awarded under the industry partnerships program, based on a number of criteria, including whether employment opportunities exist for individuals that complete the proposed education or training program, whether there is existing or future demand for new training programs in a particular industry or occupation, and whether sufficient programs exist to meet such demand.

Successful community college applicants—in partnership with employers—would be able to use the grant funds for a range of activities, including academic or training programs that provide relevant training for jobs in in-demand industry sectors; developing and implementing programs that lead to a recognized postsecondary credential or degree in an in-demand sector or occupation; creating career pathways; and developing skills consortia.

A Community College to Career Fund was initially proposed by President Obama just after his 2012 State of the Union address, during which he called for a national commitment to train two million workers, and was included in his fiscal year (FY) 2013 and 2014 budgets. 

The Community College to Career Fund is intended to be the successor of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College & Career Training (TAACCCT) grants. The TAACCCT grants were originally authorized under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) and are set to expire at the end of 2014. National Skills Coalition supports efforts to continue federal funding for activities currently supported through TAACCCT grants.