Community colleges are very important to the fabric of our society. For millions of Americans, community colleges offer quality education at an affordable price. Today, community colleges serve as one of our nation’s most innovative pathways to train our workforce for jobs available now and into the future.
President Obama also understands the importance of community colleges. When he came into office he made it a top goal to ensure that every American has at least one year of postsecondary education and the U.S. has the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.
To help support this goal and expand opportunities to American workers, I was pleased to travel to St. Petersburg College in Clearwater, Fla. this week to announce another round of $500 million to community colleges around the country. These grants will help promote skills development and employment opportunities in fields such as advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care, as well as science, technology, engineering and math careers through partnerships between training providers and local employers. The goal of these grants is simple: We’re supporting schools that will work directly with companies to develop training programs that respond to the real needs of employers.
The Labor Department is awarding a total of 54 Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grants covering nearly 300 community colleges across the country. Every state in the county will receive at least $2.5 million to participate in the program.
St Petersburg College is playing an important part in this effort. As part of a consortium of 11 other state colleges, St. Petersburg College will receive nearly $15 million to expand the Florida TRADE Program to help address the critical shortage of skilled workers in the state’s manufacturing industry. They’ve brought together business leaders, educators, workforce professionals, industry experts, and community organizations on the same team working toward a common goal. With this grant, Florida has all of the tools to be a global leader in advanced manufacturing.
I saw the good work that being done at St Petersburg college. While there, I toured the recently opened Collaborative Center for Emerging Technologies. I met students who are getting trained in new technologies that’ll make them ready for immediate employment. This was very encouraging and I look forward to seeing all the ways colleges around the country will take advantage of these grants.
Never in our nation’s history has it been more important for workers to continue their education after high school. With this grant announcement, we take a critical step to reassure workers that investing in their education is the right move. We’re so excited to support our partners in Florida and around the country.