Washington Watch: What will follow TAACCCT?

A machining technology student at Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland, Washington, hones her skills. (Photo: LWTech)

The last of the four rounds of the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College to Career Training (TAACCCT) grants wrapped up in September.

The program awarded $1.9 billion in grants, largely to community colleges and college-led consortia. The projects enrolled approximately 500,000 students, leading to more than 300,000 credentials.

At nearly $500 million per year, TAACCCT was the largest-ever direct federal investment in community college workforce training capacity. The program was funded in the 2010 health care reconciliation bill, using a pre-existing authorization tied to the larger TAA program for trade-impacted workers. It was a successor of sorts to the Community-Based Job Training Grants (CBJTG), funded during the Bush administration at $125 million per year. These two programs represent bipartisan support for a large-scale federal investment in community college workforce training capacity.

Pitched proposals

Since the expiration of TAACCCT funding, several bills have been introduced to authorize a successor program, though none have come close to enactment. The most notable is the Community College to Career Fund Act (CCCF), originally introduced by Sen. Al Franken in 2013 and most recently introduced earlier this year by two Illinois lawmakers, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (S. 620) and Rep. Robin Kelly (H.R. 2207).

In addition, the TAACCCT authorization is still technically on the books. (CBJTG was never authorized as a separate law or authorization, but rather existed solely through the appropriations process.)

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has supported CCCF and similar proposals and intends to increase this advocacy in the 116th Congress. At least one key Democratic appropriator is a strong supporter of the program.

The program’s general purpose dovetails with potential revived discussions of an infrastructure program; AACC advanced a TAACCCT-like program as part of infrastructure proposals at the start of the Trump administration.

Your feedback requested

Here is where you come in. AACC staff have been soliciting feedback from members on the positive and negative aspects of the TAACCCT and CBJTG programs as it shapes a renewed proposal in this area. Feedback to date has included a desire for continued focus on competency-based education and workplace-based learning, better coordination between the departments of Labor and Education, and an increased coordinating role for state community college system offices.

We would benefit by more input, so if you have any thoughts about this, please feel free to contact me.

About the Author

Jim Hermes
is associate vice president of government relations at the American Association of Community Colleges.