Washington Watch: Workforce training programs added to BBB Act

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The latest incarnation of the House’s Build Back Better Act (BBB), released on Wednesday, adds two major community college-led workforce education programs. Taken together, these programs would award grants totaling $6.1 billion over the next four years.

Enactment of such a program has been a top American Association of Community Colleges priority for the BBB legislation.

New ED program

The larger of the two new programs, which would provide $5 billion and be administered by the U.S. Education Department (ED), is called the Community College and Industry Partnership Grants. The program would award $4.9 billion of competitive grants to create and expand workforce training programs at community colleges and other postsecondary vocational institutions working with industry sector partnerships.

The program would operate in fiscal years (FY) 2022-26. Grants would be used to expand opportunities for workers to obtain recognized postsecondary credentials that are nationally portable and stackable. Specific uses of funds include:

  • Establishing, improving or scaling high-quality, evidence-based workforce education programs.
  • Providing services to help individuals with barriers to employment prepare for, complete and transition out of these programs.
  • Carrying out one or more of the following:
    • Creating or expanding articulation agreements, credit transfer agreements, corequisite remediation and dual enrollment programs, and credit for prior learning.
    • Making information available on curricula, recognized credentials, related skills and employment outcomes.
    • Establishing or implementing plans to add funded programs to the WIOA eligible trainer provider list.
    • Obtaining specialized equipment necessary for funded programs.
    • Reducing participants’ cost of attending funded programs.
    • Establishing or expanding industry sector partnerships to carry out grant activities.

ED will receive $100 million to administer the program and engage in targeted outreach to under-resourced, rural and other institutions. 

TAACCCT returns

The second program is one community colleges are well familiar with, the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants (TAACCCT)The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)-administered program would receive $1.2 billion over four years, with $300 million spent annually. Grants up to $2.5 million for individual institutions and up to $15 million for institutional consortia are available.

The program would be very similar to the previous round of TAACCCT funding, but at least 15% of grant funds must be spent on student support services, including direct financial assistance to help students access supported programs. DOL and grantees must ensure that the grants effectively serve underserved communities. 

As with the previous incarnation of TAACCCT, each state would be guaranteed a minimum amount of funding per each grant round.

Status in both chambers

Congressional Democrats continue to negotiate the contents of the BBB Act. Wednesday’s release is intended to spur a possible House vote on the bill this week, though some moderate Democrats have insisted on time to review the bill text and get an official cost estimate for the legislation.

The Senate timeline is even less clear, as not all Democratic senators have yet indicated their support for the bill.  

AACC strongly supports the BBB legislation. 

About the Author

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