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.