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Independent Voice

Workforce Development Bills Introduced to Support Community College

Dec 19, 2023 03:02PM ● By Office of Rep. Mike Thompson News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. (MPG) - Reps. Mike Thompson (CA-04), Lucy McBath (GA-07), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), and Mark Takano (CA-39) introduced legislation to provide American students and workers educational opportunities and prepare them for success in their careers. The “Training, Retention, and Investment Now (TRAIN) Act” expands and makes permanent the Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants program at the Department of Labor (DOL), which provides funding to community colleges for partnerships with local employers.

“Workforce training programs help put students on a track to good-paying careers in in-demand fields,” said Thompson. “I am proud to coauthor the TRAIN Act to create a competitive grant program so that schools like the Santa Rosa Junior College receive the funding they need to train workers for careers in good-paying jobs. I look forward to ensuring that workforce training programs receive the funding they deserve to set more Americans on a path to a successful career.”

“It’s important that our students are ready to pursue the steps along their desired paths when they graduate, and our community colleges need equal access to resources to support the next generation of American workers,” said McBath. “The Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants are making monumental change in our communities, and the TRAIN Act takes an important step to protect them. I am proud to support our workforce by protecting and expanding these vital programs, and I thank my colleagues for their partnership.”

“In Connecticut, our 14 community colleges serve as an affordable bridge to higher education and long-term success for students of all ages. The TRAIN Act expands the Department of Labor Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants they rely on to provide quality services to communities. These grants increase the capacity of community colleges in offering equitable access to training for in-demand industries,” said Hayes. “I am a graduate of Naugatuck Valley Community College and know how impactful these institutions are in increasing access to career training and education for low-income students. This legislation is the next step forward in providing more Americans a pathway toward a good-paying job and rewarding career.”

“Our vision for a better and more equitable future starts with making real investments in people and opportunities,” said Bowman. “With the TRAIN for a Better America Act introduced by Congresswoman McBath, we are connecting students to transformative educational and workforce development opportunities to prepare them for success in their careers. Solving our nation’s most pressing issues will take deep collaboration and intentional policy making that recognizes the untapped potential in our communities and the importance of establishing and supporting local partnerships that uplift workers, students, and families. As a lifelong educator, I've seen just how impactful our schools – especially our community colleges – can be when they serve as holistic centers of growth and development for students, families, and the community at large. This legislation is a critical step forward as we seek to bring investments and resources to ensure access to high quality workforce development aligned to local needs.”

“Community colleges are essential to developing a robust workforce to meet the needs of future industries,” said Takano. “As a public school teacher for 24 years and a community college trustee for more than two decades, I understand how impactful the Department of Labor’s Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants can be in developing career pathways and fill in gaps in barriers to completing a student’s education. I am proud to co-lead the Training, Retention, And Investment Now (TRAIN) for a Better America Act with my colleagues to codify and expand this funding for years to come.”

Community colleges have long provided vital access to higher education for low-income and non-traditional learners. However, community colleges struggle to build the capacity they need, and many students face difficulties finding employment after graduating. Under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act’s (WIOA) demonstration authority, DOL has begun awarding Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants to expand online and technology-enhanced learning in industries such as health care, logistics, and cybersecurity. These grants expand the capacity of community colleges to collaborate with employers and the public workforce development system to meet local and regional labor market demand for a skilled workforce. DOL has awarded tens of millions of dollars in grants to community colleges around the country in 2023. The TRAIN Act codifies and expands the Department of Labor’s Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants, authorizing a competitive grant program that aims to build community colleges’ capacity to provide employment and training programs leading to post‐secondary credentials for in‐demand industries or occupations.

The grants provide for:

1. Developing or scaling up career training, career pathways, or work‐based learning options like apprenticeships.

2. Assisting individuals with barriers to employment with accessing programs.

3. Providing support services to help participants complete education and training.

This bill is endorsed by the National Skills Coalition, Third Way, Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), and the Association of Community College Trustees (AACT).

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