Reporter’s notebook


Bipartisan bill aims to expand digital skills in workforce training

A bipartisan, bicameral bill introduced Thursday aims to expand access to digital skills training.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) and Rep. David Valadao (R-California) introduced the Digital Skills for Today’s Workforce Act, which would amend the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) — the nation’s main job training law — to establish a new Digital Skills at Work grant program to expand digital skills training within postsecondary education, adult education and workforce development systems. Digital skills training is not currently listed as an allowable use under WIOA, according to the lawmakers.

The legislation would create formula funding grants for states based on a combination of population, number of working-age residents, and number of residents with low digital literacy skills (determined by educational attainment, earnings and limited English proficiency), according to a release.

In Minnesota, Z-degrees save students money and more

An effort among a group of community colleges in Minnesota to eliminate textbook costs through open educational resources and other no-cost options has saved students an estimated $8.5 million since the program started in 2020, according to the Minnesota State system.

Ten Minnesota State community colleges now offer Z-degrees – entire degree programs which students can complete with zero textbook costs. Another six colleges and universities have committed to implement a new Z-degree by spring 2026.

Z-degrees also can provide other benefits. Century College, for example, conducted a study that compared the pass rates of students who enrolled in Z-degree courses to other sections of the same course. The preliminary data showed a 2.8 percent higher pass rate for Z-degree courses, according to Minnesota State. There is also evidence that Z-degree courses may help close the equity gap for students of color, first-generation students and students who receive Pell grants, the system said.

New York college joins international tech, voc ed network

Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) has become the first community college in the country to join the UNEVOC Network, a United Nations’ endeavor to advance technical and vocational education and training (TVET). There are more than 230 fellow members of the UNEVOC Network worldwide.

The New York college celebrated its inclusion with a two-day event last week that included workshops, information sessions and networking opportunities. Topics included robotics, electric and autonomous vehicles, virtual welding, and inclusivity in the trades through Hudson Valley’s Uniquely Abled Academy, a new program designed to prepare neurodivergent students for careers in advanced manufacturing.

The UNEVOC Network provides an environment for exchange, cooperation and mutual assistance for its members, which are called UNEVOC Centres, according to a release. Through international collaboration and peer learning, UNEVOC Centres enhance the quality of TVET teaching and learning opportunities offered in their respective countries.

“We are committed to innovation and addressing the training and educational needs of both local and international communities as we work to address an increasingly global future, and we are thrilled to be able to share our programming and progress with the world as an official UNEVOC Centre,” HVCC President Roger Ramsammy said in a release.

A state program to help students go abroad

Twenty-three students from Tennessee’s Jackson State Community College (JSCC) will travel abroad this summer across 13 countries thanks to the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies.

Students from JSCC and other colleges in the state will take general education courses while visiting other countries over three to four weeks during the summer. TnCIS hosts more than 40 classes in 20 areas of study across four continents.

Each student’s scholarship requires them to return to JSCC as “International Ambassadors” who will help promote the study abroad program to their peers, and they will share their personal travel journals, photos and videos with the college, according to a release from Jackson State. To qualify, students had to complete at least 12 college-level hours, meet minimum GPA guidelines and interview with the JSCC International Education Committee.

“These programs are transformative for our students. Many of them have never been on a plane before or even out of West Tennessee,” said Liz Mayo, coordinator for global learning at JSCC. “Our programs give students an affordable way to see the world in a safe and educational environment supported by faculty and other students from across the state of Tennessee.”

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.
The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.