Posts Tagged ‘White House’

How Community Colleges Help Build the Workforce

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Last week, ATE held its annual Principal Investigators Conference in Washington DC, titled “Overcoming Barriers and Boundaries.” As part of the program, Keynote speaker Kumar Garg, of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy focused on efforts that the Obama administration is taking in its support of community colleges, recognizing the important role they play in helping American students prepare for jobs requiring scientific and technological skills.

More than 6 million students are enrolled in community colleges, providing students with several important advantages – affordable tuition, flexible course schedules and convenient locations, among other things. Community colleges are of particular value to students who are older, who are working, or who need remedial classes. Furthermore, community colleges actively work with businesses and industry to tailor their programs to meet current economic needs, such as health information technology, advanced manufacturing or green jobs.

Last spring, for example, the President announced a major expansion of the Skills for America’s Future program, an industry-led initiative to improve industry partnerships with community colleges and build a nationwide network to maximize workforce development strategies, job training programs and job placements.

The specific goals of the program aim to train about 500,000 workers in 30 states over the next five years – and at the same time, spur economic growth and lower the nation’s unemployment rate. The initiative also aims to develop a manufacturing skills certification program, that would establish a universally accepted credential, and to win adoption of the program at 200 community colleges.

“Last year, we launched Skills for America’s Future to bring together companies and community colleges around a simple idea: making it easier for workers to gain new skills that will make America more competitive in the global economy,” according to a quote from President Obama in a White House press release.

Learn about more ways that community college programs and how they are preparing students for careers in the scientific and technological arenas at the website of the American Association of Community Colleges.

Community College Summit

Friday, October 15th, 2010

The White House Summit on Community Collegescollege

Last week, the inaugural Summit on Community Colleges was held at the White House, helping to draw attention to a valuable educational resource. As Dr. Jill Biden noted in the program’s opening remarks, “[Community colleges serve as] an important next step in our [nation’s] efforts to meet the President’s goal of having the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world by the end of this decade.”

Community colleges are an American invention that were first introduced nearly 100 years ago to help broaden educational opportunities. According to the American Association of Community Colleges,
as of the Fall 2007, a total of 7.4 million individuals were enrolled in credit programs at 1,165 community colleges nationwide. Forty percent were attending on a full-time basis; 60 percent attended part-time.

Here’s what President Barack Obama had to say in his remarks at the Summit, “[Community colleges] are places where workers can gain new skills to move up in their careers. These are places where anyone with a desire to learn and to grow can take a chance on a brighter future for themselves and their families – whether that’s a single mom, or a returning solider, or an aspiring entrepreneur.”

We didn’t have to venture further than this week’s ATETV Episode to find a great example of these very circumstances: Laramie County Community College student Stacy Brandt is enrolled in the school’s Wind Energy Technology Program. Stacy was a stay-at-home mom for eight years, but as she told ATETV, she needed to go back to work following her divorce and was looking for a career with a future.

“I don’t fit in the box,’” Stacy explained. “I love the hands-on aspects of working on the wind turbines…and I think if you have a job that is also your interest, even your passion, then it makes it easy to get up in the morning.” Plus, she adds, “My son is now 9. He thinks what his Mom is doing is cool.”

Writing about the White House Summit, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan noted, “Community colleges have never been more important. They are educating the workforce of the future – the radiologic technicians; the registered nurses; the installation experts on solar and wind power; the IT and cyber-security technicians; the displaced workers in need of retraining and new careers; and scientists and other professionals.”

Check out the ATETV Archives to learn about these and other offerings at community colleges around the country, and hear from other students about their experiences. We think you’ll find that community colleges provide lots of cool options.