On Monday, Sept., 26, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that Colorado’s community colleges will receive a $17.3 million grant to enhance current energy-related programs with the goal of training highly qualified workers for the businesses that are seeking a skilled workforce.
“This is very exciting for us,” said Dr. Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community College System. “These new funds will allow us to invest in curricular redesign and the technology needed to bridge the gap between existing workforce skills and emerging energy industry needs. Community colleges have carefully consulted with energy companies throughout Colorado so that we can design training programs that will equip their future workforces with the skills needed for success in the industry. We look forward to partnering with industry on this program.”
The grant is a part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Initiative, for which the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act included a total of $2 billion over a four-year period.
The grant will facilitate partnerships between energy-related businesses, community colleges, and local workforce centers to train unemployed and underemployed workers with the skills they need for placement in some of Colorado’s highest-paying and most in-demand jobs. In addition, workers who have been out of school for a while and who require remediation to succeed in college-level work will benefit from a redesign of remedial education using nationally recognized best practices to help students enter and succeed in the fast-growing energy industry in Colorado.
The energy certificate and degree programs will be designed with flexibility in mind so that students can access the programs from anywhere in the state, regardless of their location. The programs will be delivered via a combination of online learning, mobile training labs, and compressed weekend site training. A sophisticated career guidance system will be developed to help students move quickly from training into employment.
The colleges in the Colorado Community College System in the consortium are Arapahoe Community College, Colorado Northwestern Community College, Community College of Aurora, Community College of Denver, Front Range Community College, Lamar Community College, Morgan Community College, Northeastern Junior College, Otero Junior College, Pikes Peak Community College, Pueblo Community College, Red Rocks Community College and Trinidad State Junior College. Also participating are the two local district colleges: Aims Community College and Colorado Mountain College. The administration of the grant will be through the Community College of Denver.
The Colorado Community College System comprises the state’s largest system of higher education, serving more than 162,000 students annually. CCCS oversees career and academic programs in the 13 state community colleges and career and technical programs in more than 160 school districts and seven other post-secondary institutions.