$8 billion job-training proposal encourages community colleges
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An $8 billion fund to train workers at community colleges was a major plank of President Barack Obama's proposed budget, and the president of Community College of Allegheny County praised the measure as a job creator.
CCAC's Alex Johnson said the proposal that would link businesses and colleges to train 2 million American workers would both "help our institution immensely" and have the potential to drastically cut unemployment.
"Today we lack the training programs to prepare students for jobs that employers are looking for now," said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on a Monday conference call in which administration officials discussed the proposed Community College to Career Fund.
The fund, he said, will "give more community colleges the resources they desperately need to become community career centers."
The plan includes supporting registered apprenticeships, on-the-job training opportunities, and paid internships for low-income students.
White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Munoz said the fund would help community colleges train and funnel students into transportation, health care and advanced manufacturing, which have more job openings than qualified workers to fill them.
Community colleges will be able to hire additional staff, buy equipment and work on their curriculum to create career pathways for students, said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.
Mr. Johnson said CCAC is interested in training more specialized workers for careers in energy and natural gas that are in growing demand in the state, as well as in manufacturing and health care professions.
He said if the program trained people for jobs nationwide, the unemployment rate could be cut in half.
Also under the proposed Community College to Career Fund, states and entrepreneurs would also be able to seek money.
Funding to states would support industry efforts to upgrade the skills of their employees and national and regional industries would be encouraged to work together to develop standardized employee certifications.
The fund would also support entrepreneurial training of 5 million small business owners over three years, allowing individuals to develop technical and managerial skills to go into business on their own.
"It's important nowadays to give people an opportunity to not only develop their enterprise, but hire other individuals as well," he said.
An additional $1 billion would go to high school career academies.
Details on how the $8 billion would be divided under the different areas of the plan are still being worked out, Mr. Duncan said.
The fund would need Congressional approval.
First Published February 14, 2012 12:00 am