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Today, U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at Macomb Community College for a roundtable discussion on the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program that is jointly administered by the two Departments. Jim Jacobs, president of Macomb Community College and former NSC Leadership Council member, also joined the roundtable.
The visit follows the September announcement that Macomb Community College was awarded a $24.9 million grant to lead a coalition of eight Michigan colleges—the Michigan Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing (M-CAM)—in providing advanced manufacturing training to close the skills gap. The grant requires a partnership between the community colleges and local and regional manufacturers to ensure curricula are aligned with industry's needs.
This visit also has historical significance. President Obama made the announcement of his plans for the grant program at Macomb Community College in 2010. TAACCCT, signed into law later that year, provides $2 billion over four years to community colleges and other eligible institutions of higher education to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs that can be completed in two years or less and are suited for workers who are eligible for training under the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Workers program.
These multi-year grants are meant to provide workers the skills and credentials they need to compete for good-paying, middle-skill jobs that employers are struggling to fill. They do this by providing the funding to expand programs in growing industries like advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care.
These training partnerships between community colleges and local and regional employers work because they give people marketable skills that lead to family-supporting, middle-skill jobs. They also strengthen the overall economy by providing businesses the talented workers they need to compete, prosper and grow.
However, there is only one more round of TAACCCT grants available before the program expires in 2014. Federal workforce policies must provide resources to grow demand-driven training partnerships to scale and align our workforce development system with the strategies that work.
Following his 2012 State of the Union address, President Obama proposed an $8 billion Community College to Career fund as a successor to the TAACCCT grants. Senator Franken (D-MN) has introduced legislation to authorize the fund in the Senate, and Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) has introduced companion legislation in the House. NSC will provide updates on this legislation as information becomes available.