House Ways and Means Committee Democrats have introduced a bill that would revive a well-regarded job training program created during the Great Recession that used consortia — led by community colleges — to drive regional workforce and economic development.
The measure is part of a package of bills to reform U.S. trade policies. It would modernize and reauthorize Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programs, including the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT). It would provide $9.1 billion ($1.3 billion per year) over seven years for the TAACCCT program, which is more than four times its previous funding.
“Though the program was widely viewed as a great success, U.S. community colleges have received little to no resources from it since the initial funding more than a decade ago,” according to a fact sheet on the legislation. “The TAA Modernization Act of 2021 would build on the success of the previous program and deliver a new injection of funds that community colleges desperately need.”
The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), in general, supports the concept of the bill and is reviewing its details. AACC and other community college advocates have encouraged Congress to revive TAACCCT, and, in general, the idea appears to have bipartisan support.
The new measure is in line with what President Joe Biden proposed in the American Jobs Plan and his fiscal year 2022 budget, though the budget did not specify TAACCCT but rather a new U.S. Labor Department program, AACC noted.
The Biden administration has mentioned including a similar job training program in the reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). During a House hearing earlier this month, U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said the program would build on TAACCCT.
“Currently, though WIOA state plans must describe how states are engaging the community college system as partners, there is no dedicated federal funding within the statute for workforce programs within community colleges,” Walsh said.
The TAACCCT program was launched during the Obama administration to help unemployed and displaced workers affected by the recession. It distributed $2 billion over four years to 729 colleges and universities (including 630 community colleges) to work with employers and other stakeholders to train workers for in-demand jobs in their regions.
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, according to a 2019 congressional report.