Reporter’s notebook

  • Expanding workforce ed through immersive tech
  • DOL grants to strengthen nursing pipeline
  • AACC webinar on CHIPS Act opportunities
  • Course credits on equal footing

Expanding workforce ed through immersive tech

Bipartisan House legislation introduced last week would create a five-year grant program at the U.S. Department of Labor to support community colleges and career and technical education centers in developing education and training programs that include immersive technology like augmented and virtual reality.

HR 3211, the Immersive Technology for the American Workforce Act, was introduced last Thursday by Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Delaware) — founder and a co-chair of the Bipartisan Future of Work Caucus — with Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Michigan). It is one of seven bills that comprise Blunt Rochester’s JOBS Agenda, a comprehensive package of bills to address workforce shortages and more.

“Across the country, businesses are struggling to find employees to meet the ever-growing demand in the skilled trades or technical fields,” Walberg said in a release. “I am proud to work with Congresswoman Blunt Rochester to introduce this important legislation to ensure that Americans in rural and underserved areas can utilize immersive technologies to pursue career development and better access quality job training. Immersive technologies, including augmented and virtual reality tools, will lower training costs and improve safety while paving the way for individuals to pursue good-paying careers.”

The bill, which the American Association of Community Colleges supports, would prioritize entities that:

  • Serve rural areas
  • Serve areas of substantial unemployment
  • Engage in a public-private partnership
  • Fill a skills gap
  • Meet the needs of employers
  • Retrain workers in strategic employment sectors
  • Target individuals with barriers to employment
  • Align with relevant state and local workforce development plans

DOL grants to strengthen nursing pipeline

Four community college systems will receive a total of $10.1 million in federal funding to help address local nursing shortages.

Broward College (Florida), Cuyahoga Community College District (Ohio), Riverside Community College District/Riverside City College (California) and Yavapai County Community College District (Arizona) are among 25 public-private partnerships that will receive more than $78 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to support workforce training programs to develop more trained nurses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an average of 203,200 openings for registered nurses each year through 2031.

The Nursing Expansion Grant Program aims to support innovative partnerships and strategies to expand and diversify the pipeline of qualified nursing professionals. Specifically, the grants will increase the number of nursing instructors and educators and support equitable opportunities for frontline healthcare professionals to advance on a career pathway, according to DOL.

The grant amounts for each community college are:

  • Broward College (Florida), $3 million
  • Cuyahoga Community College District (Ohio), $3.3 million
  • Riverside Community College District/Riverside City College (California), $2.7 million
  • Yavapai County Community College District (Arizona), $1.1 million

AACC webinar on CHIPS Act opportunities

The American Association of Community Colleges on May 22 will host a webinar with U.S. Commerce Department officials on opportunities available to public two-year colleges through the recently passed CHIPS Act.

The legislation provides about $50 billion to encourage the research, development and manufacturing of semiconductors in the U.S. Grant applications from chip manufacturers and others must include a workforce development plan that includes partnerships between businesses and workforce education providers at the local, state and regional levels.

Course credits on equal footing

A bill to equalize the value of major course credits at all Illinois higher education institutions is a governor’s signature away from becoming state law.

SB2288, which passed the Illinois House last week, would strengthen the Illinois Articulation Initiative Act (AIA) by requiring public colleges and universities to accept all major courses approved for transfer through IAI as equivalent major courses, as long as a specific major is offered at the receiving institution, according to a release from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB).

ICCB explained that under current law, four-year institutions can accept IAI major courses as either direct course equivalents or as elective credits. As a result, some students transferring to a public university must repeat courses already completed at a community college level in order to complete a degree at the university level.

“The Illinois Community College Board applauds state lawmakers for helping us reduce barriers to success for Illinois college students. Equalizing the value for certain credits earned at community colleges will also help reduce the stigma that work done at a community college is less valuable than at a 4-year college or university,” said ICCB Executive Director Brian Durham.

The proposed legislation, which the state Senate passed last month, also would create an IAI panel to address an accelerated path toward a degree in education to help tackle the statewide teacher shortage. The panel would help to create pathways and course sequences for students who start at a community college and seek to transfer and complete an education degree at a public university.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.