Training Industry

Workforce Development

  • Federal Dollars Helping to Keep WFD Alive at Community Colleges

Pockets of workforce development initiatives at community colleges are showing great promise through recent funding from the federal government.  However, on the opposite side of the funding bar, state dollars at community colleges have shrunk in 43 states, resulting in difficult budgets, which historically is not an uncommon situation at our nation’s community colleges.

TAACCCT Brings $2 Billion Over 4 years
The Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant, for instance, has certainly helped alleviate some of the state cuts that community colleges have been forced to deal with.   TAACCCT was signed by President Obama on March 30, 2010 inside the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. It totals $2 billion over four years [$500 million each year]. The first round of grant recipients was announced on September 26, 2011 [see list of grantees by state with project descriptions].

State Cuts “Severe”
In a recent National Public Radio broadcast on the topic of community college funding, President of the Association of Community College Trustees Noah Brown, said that “the challenge we face right now is quite severe.”  It was noted, for instance, that at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, which is comprised of 23 campuses, state funding had dropped from $3,000 per student to $2,300, totaling $10 million in cuts last year.

Helping to offset such draconian cuts, however, Ivy Tech did receive $5.1 million in grants last year from the Department of Labor in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, the largest grant in Ivy Tech’s  history.  Included in the total grant funds came $2.43 million through Ivy Tech joining forces with the Anne Arundel Community College Consortium. The Consortium was awarded $19.7 million through the TAACCCT grant.

Second Round of Funding Announced
The second round of competition for another $500 million of TAACCCT grant funds was recently announced on February 24, 2012. The closing date for applications is May 24, 2012.  A new TAConnect initiative includes a website that connects more than 30 nonprofit, philanthropically funded organizations with deep experience and success in the elements of TAACCCT with first round grantees and second round applicants. DOL requires that TAACCCT applicants leverage the work of philanthropic or nonprofit  organizations that support community colleges.

History Goes Back to Mid 2009
The development of TAACCCT has an interesting history harking back to July 24, 2009, when President Obama announced the American Graduation Initiative (AGI), calling for $12 billion for community colleges. Ultimately, the passing of the $2 billion TAACCCT grant was actually a super condensed version of the now dead AGI. TAACCCT focuses specifically on the creation of new training and workforce development initiatives to help economically dislocated workers. As noted on the TAACCCT website, “the grants support partnerships between community colleges and employers to develop programs that provide pathways to good jobs, including building instructional programs that meet specific industry needs.”

Reaching Out to Companies
TAACCCT awardees also reach out to business and industry in order to submit solid RFPs showing how valid and meaningful training and education programs are on the drawing boards to meet the needs of companies and workers. For Ivy Tech, the federal dollars they received, for instance, are slated to enhance an Electrical Vehicle Technical program, a Mechatronics program, a Cyber Technician program and a Environmental Technical program. Other awardees are using their grants for the development of a wide variety of training and education programs in numerous industries.

What May or May Not Be Next
In the meantime, in an AGI déjà-vu, on February 13, 2012, President Obama announced an $8 billion three-year proposal, called the Community College to Career Fund . According to the White House press release, this fund “will help forge new partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train two million workers for good-paying jobs in high-growth and high-demand industries,” such as “health care, transportation, and advanced manufacturing.”  Of course it’s anybody’s best guess, and many educators are skeptical, about whether or not this will get through Congress.  Perhaps the best hope is that it will end up being like AGI and get appropriated for much less inside some other Act?

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Interesting article, and the TAA initiative will hopefully drive employers to their local community colleges. However, I've long believed that many organizations just do not understand what's available in existing workforce development units of community colleges, right in their own geographic area. I no longer work for a community college, so this isn't an advertisement. Just some perspective for this group's consideration... Did you know that many WFD groups are considered to be revenue-generating units of the college -- so they often run like a business. Yes, fed/state funding was pulled in the last decade, but those WFD units driven by innovative leaders continued on. Some partnered in consortia format with many community colleges and businesses coming together in an initiative, others aligned with Small Business Development Centers, business incubators, and local economic development agencies. Some examples -- check out Dallas Community College, Virginia Community College (, or even my former employer, Genesee Community College's BEST Center ( You might have to dig a bit in college websites to find the appropriate link to a WFD unit (search for business/industry training, workforce development, contract training, custom training). Did you know that many community colleges contract with both college instructors and often high-level consultants that you might bring into your company at a significant price break? How can they do this -- well, the community college WFD unit provides all the administrative support, up front contracting, often instructional design, customer service, billing, follow-up, etc. that can eat away at a solo consultant's profits. In addition, community colleges have access to federal and state grants (like even OSHA training through the federal government, or Workforce Investment Board/WIB projects). Certainly, community colleges offer credit-based programs, but many have developed extensive non-credit, custom contract, and certification training initiatives to help organizations succeed. Training can occur even on-site, Genesee CC has a laptop computer lab that they can bring right to the company's site, for example. Vendor-partners aren't left out in the cold either, as many of these units partner with some well-known corporate training groups such as DDI, Achieve Global, Dale Carnegie, etc. So, check out your local community college -- a great opportunity to partner AND save training dollars. You can also get an overview of what many of these organizations are looking at through one of the professional orgs -- NCCET (National Council on Continuing Education and Training, Regards, Cathy

Catherine LawsonApril.03.2012 (4:47 PM)

Thanks for the very informative comment, Cathy. George Lorenzo

George LorenzoApril.04.2012 (2:57 PM)

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