[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that the Department of Labor has awarded a total of $8,460,255 in funding through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program to four colleges and universities throughout Illinois. The funding announced today is intended to help create and expand innovative partnerships between community colleges and businesses to educate and train workers with the skills employers need. The National Association of Manufacturers estimates that as many as 600,000 jobs nationwide are unfilled because businesses cannot find workers with the right skills – also known as the “skills gap”.
“This funding is an investment in our workforce, our economy, and our country’s future,” Durbin said. “As the largest and most affordable sector of the nation’s higher education system, community colleges are uniquely positioned to help close the skills gap, put people back to work, and fill critical shortages at growing businesses and manufacturers.”
The following programs will receive funding through today’s announcement:
- Lewis and Clark Community College (Godfrey, IL): Lewis and Clark Community College will receive nearly $5 million as the lead grantee in a nine-college, multi-state grant for the Mississippi River Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics (MRTDL) Consortium. The MRTDL consortium answers a call from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to better organize and coordinate resources to address workforce needs along the Mississippi River. This program will bolster the Mississippi River region, connecting all nine participating community colleges to each other and to Mississippi River-dependent employers to forge a strategic network that matches highly skilled jobs and in-demand employers with local workers.
- John Wood Community College (Quincy, IL): John Wood Community College will receive over $2 million as a partner in the MRTDL consortium led by Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Illinois.
- Northwestern University (Evanston, IL): Northwestern University will receive $250,000 in funding as part of a twelve-college multistate grant led by Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
- William Rainey Harper College (Palatine, IL): William Rainey Harper College will receive $1,151,774 in funding as part of the same twelve-college multistate grant led by Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In July, Durbin joined U.S. Senator Al Franken in introducing a bill that will help train two million Americans for jobs in high-demand industries – such as health care, advanced manufacturing, clean energy, and information technology – by promoting partnerships between two-year colleges and businesses with funding through a competitive grant program.
Durbin’s Community College to Career Fund Act would create a competitive grant program to fund partnerships that focus on valuable job training-related efforts, such as registered apprenticeships, on-the-job training opportunities, and paid internships for low-income students that allow them simultaneously to earn credit for work-based learning in a high-skill field. The bill contains incentives for these programs to help students find employment, setting aside additional money for programs with high job placement rates. It also makes grants available to states, so that they may work with businesses having trouble filling vacant positions, and to entrepreneurs seeking to start their own business.