On September 27, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis toured Northern Virginia Family Services’ Training Futures facility in McLean, Va., to highlight a $12.3 million grant NOVA recently received from the Department of Labor. NOVA’s initiative, Credential to Careers, will lead a consortium with six other colleges to develop new, employer-driven career pathways in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
“You’ve got some very talented people in this [college] community that come from very diverse backgrounds who have different challenges and needs. Being able to identify and promote programs that can create a return right away—where students can get the stackable credentials—is essential in putting people back to work,” said Solis. “I want to commend this college, which is the flagship of this grant. This is a three-year effort and we hope that the successes we learn here can be shared with other people.”
The grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Community College and Career Training initiative which promotes skills development and employment opportunities in fields such as advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care, as well as science, technology, engineering and math careers through partnerships between training providers and local employers. The Department of Labor is implementing and administering the program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education.
The consortium will develop the capacity of participating community colleges to deliver STEM education and career training programs to TAA-eligible workers in each of seven regions which currently rank among the top high-tech employment centers. The initiative will also enhance, expand and create replicable best-in-class practices and strategies designed to prepare TAA-eligible workers and others for high-wage, high-skill jobs and credentials in STEM industries. In addition, the program will serve as the catalyst for innovation and economic growth in the regions and beyond.
Three of the consortium members are located in STEM growth regions: Northern Virginia (NOVA), Austin (Austin Community College) and Seattle (Shoreline Community College). The additional consortium members are located in regions battered by trade-displaced layoffs that also have regional industry needs for a skilled and educated STEM workforce: Los Angeles (Los Angeles Trade Technical College), Southwest Virginia (Virginia Western Community College), and the Michigan communities of Muskegon and Flint (Muskegon Community College and Mott Community College). The consortium will also be working with important national strategic partners.
Credentials to Careers will show how community colleges working with nonprofit workforce development partners and local STEM employers can quickly scale-up high-performing education and training programs to prepare TAA-impacted workers and other adult workers for fast-growing STEM occupational clusters.