More on the proposed $150M program

In recommending a new $150 million career and education program geared toward community colleges, House appropriators looked at the success of a previous program: The Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) grants program.

As the House Appropriations Committee prepared for a Wednesday markup of its fiscal year 2020 spending bill that includes funding for higher education and job training, an accompanying report to the bill offers some insights on what led Democrats to propose the Strengthening Community College Training Grants program, which aims to better align workforce development efforts between in-demand industries and postsecondary education.

The report, released Tuesday, noted that the TAACCCT program made a major investment of $1.9 billion in community colleges between 2010 and 2014 and achieved success in helping more adults attain industry-recognized skills and credentials. Nearly 500,000 individuals enrolled in programs supported through TAACCCT and earned more than 320,000 credentials in manufacturing, healthcare, information technology, energy, transportation and other industries, it said.

“To build on lessons learned from this initiative, the Committee recommendation includes new funding to support a competitive capacity-building grant program to again leverage community colleges in supporting local workforce development and industry needs and to collaborate with employers in the design and implementation of courses and programs,” the report said.

The bill would direct the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), which would manage the new program, to set a minimum grant amount of $1.5 million for individual colleges. Consortia of community colleges and other higher education institutions — “including public and private, non-profit four-year institutions” — also would be eligible to apply, but the lead institution on the grant would be a community college.

House Republicans have not yet commented on the proposed program. When the appropriations subcommittee last week passed the bill, ranking member Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) said his party would likely introduce amendments during the full House markup. Although their views on funding don’t necessarily align with those of Democrats, Republican appropriators have expressed disagreement with the Trump administration over several proposed program cuts.

Focus on registered apprenticeships

The committee report also outlines the direction appropriators expect DOL to follow regarding apprenticeship programs, which would receive $250 million in FY2020, a $90 million increase. The report echoed Democrats’ concerns raised during hearings last month about the quality of proposed industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs) and emphasized using registered apprenticeships instead.

As a result, the bill would direct funding only to registered programs and the funds would support state grants and contracts and cooperative agreements for national and local apprenticeship intermediaries.

The committee also asked DOL to report on how registered apprenticeships could better connect secondary and postsecondary systems with workforce development. In addition to including best practices, the report would also detail DOL’s efforts to expand apprenticeships to high schools in order to help connect students to careers in fields facing worker shortages.

“While the Committee recognizes the important role of registered apprenticeship programs in developing our nation’s workforce, more could be done to leverage registered apprenticeships in aligning our nation’s workforce development and traditional educational systems,” the report said.

The committee report also asked DOL to expand apprenticeships to industries and fields that don’t traditionally use apprenticeships, such as first responders, utilities and transportation. It also encouraged the department to find ways to increase the number of women in apprenticeships, who do not participate in the same numbers as men and often earn less than them.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.