Investing in Skills, Investing in People’s Dreams

by Secretary Tom Perez on September 19, 2013 · 2 comments

As we continue our work to accelerate this economic recovery and restore broad-based prosperity, one of our most critical tasks is to empower American workers with the skills they need to succeed in 21st-century jobs.

Secretary Thomas E. Perez at a podium.

Secretary Perez announced a total of $474.5 million in grants to community college to expand innovative training programs, including nearly $25 million to a state-wide consortium led by Front Range Community College.

To that end, the Obama Administration announced this week its continued unprecedented investment in community colleges — specifically their capacity to provide, in partnership with employers, the training that adult learners need to climb ladders of opportunity and secure a foothold in the middle class.

We distributed $474.5 million in grants under our Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program, known as TAACCCT.  It includes a total of 57 awards that will support projects in at least 183 schools representing every state plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.  This comes on top of $1 billion in TAACCCT grants we made over the last two years. 

I made the announcement on Wednesday at Front Range Community College outside of Denver, the leader of a Colorado consortium receiving an award of nearly $25 million to develop a pipeline of highly qualified workers in advanced manufacturing.  As I toured the campus, I saw students of all ages from diverse backgrounds, many of them single mothers, working in classrooms on car brakes and air-conditioning systems, obtaining the certifications that will lead to good jobs.  The new TAACCCT dollars will enhance the college’s ability to provide this kind of practical, hands-on learning.

Secretary Perez with others in a workshop.

Secretary Perez, Lt. Governor of Colorado Joseph Garcia, and Dr. Nancy McCallin, President of the Colorado Community College System talk with students in FRCC's automotive lab.

TAACCCT is a win-win.  It builds human capital, giving our people marketable skills that lead to good jobs.  And it strengthens the overall economy, providing businesses the talented workers they need to compete, prosper and grow.  This is a perfect example of workforce investment done the right way – varied stakeholders coming together around pragmatic strategies designed to serve the mutual interests of all parties.

TAACCCT may have a long name and something of a clumsy acronym, but make no mistake about it: these grants change lives.  They give people access to state-of-the-art programs and curriculums that catapult them into middle-class jobs. I’ve seen it.  I’ve met the people who are using these programs as a springboard to a better life.

This is about people.  People like Sheri Dron, whom I met at Front Range Community College on Wednesday. She spoke about how she wasn’t sure she could keep her house after her husband, whom she had known since she was 10 years old, died suddenly last year. But she enrolled in the school’s Precision Machining Program, got a scholarship and already has a paid internship.

Thanks to the people and programs at Front Range, Sheri says, she has hope for the future again.  She hopes to one day start a business that she and her late husband, who was a machinist, had dreamed about.

That’s what this program is all about – creating opportunity and helping people to reach their highest and best dreams.

Editor’s note: Keep up with Secretary Perez on Twitter and Facebook.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rijke Studenten September 21, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Education is the most important base of the economy. Teach the people the right skills and they can certainly handle themselves. Very great news that you are working on this. People need to understand that they have the power to control their own future. Trust in your skillset and you can also provide services independently.

2 Rochelle Borrego December 2, 2013 at 5:52 pm

It was an honor meeting Secretary Perez during his visit to FRCC, as a student in the Precision Machining program I was very excited to hear the news about the grants recieved. I believe that it is ONLY through education that we can advance our selves in the competitive workplace we have in this country. As a single mother and the daughter of a single mother, I’ve seen first hand how these kinds of work skills programs can mean the difference between a middle class lifestyle and living off the welfair rolls. When my father had a stroke at the age of 53 my mother was left with 5 children to support and no job. She was given the opportunity to attend a similar program to those offered by FRCC and worked as a dry wall finisher until my youngest sister finished high school 12 years later. She then went back to school and got a nursing licence. So I am honored to be part of the current program to educate and employ those who are willing to do the work necessary to advance in industry.
A heart felt Thank You to Mr. Perez and the Obama administration for this program designed for the American People!!

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