Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Obama Gets It: Proposes $8 Billion To Help Community Colleges Meet Local Employment Needs

I admit I get a bit of a thrill exploring places where I'm probably not supposed to be...particularly empty and dark parts of buildings. So I kind of enjoyed calling in on a White House press conference call. Now if you're gonna say "'re totally allowed to do that." My response would be to you "Hush up, now! You're ruining my fun!" It sure as heck FELT exciting.

The receptionist person was all like "And what news organization are you with sir?"

"News organization? I....of course...I'm with Muskegon Critic." **TEE HEE HEE** I told her I'm a NEWS ORGANIZATION...MUAAA HA HA HA HA HA HAAA! AAAHHHH HA HA HA HA HAAAAAA....

"Hold on a moment, let me patch you in...."

AHA! My cunning disguise as an actual DC reporter mucky muck was successful! And I didn't even have to wear pants! The FOOLS!

As I sat outside in my living room I listened in on the deepest darkest, darkest, filthiest secrets the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Education were wiling to share in this here press conference. Stuff like "The president's budget proposes 8 billion dollars for community colleges to partner with businesses to provide training in job skills that are in demand."

The new fund, announced at an event at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Va., would support community college-based training programs that would expand training to meet the needs of employers in high-growth sectors, provide workers with the latest certified training and skills, and invest in registered apprenticeships and other on-the-job training opportunities.

The fund would also support paid internships for low-income community college students that would allow them to simultaneously earn credit for work-based learning and gain relevant employment experience.

This, of course, is huge. It's particularly critical for communities hit with a massive upheaval and transformation in how their economies function, such as manufacturing communities. Within the space of just a few years people have lost high paying jobs jobs where they'd been most of their lives and were either thrust into low wage jobs or they now have no jobs at all. It's a trend that's been going on for decades, and has come to a fine point in the past half decade.

A lot of manufacturing communities once offered jobs for folks right out of high school...and in many instances jobs right out of 9th grade. So there's often a low level of higher degree holders, and a low level of skilled labor. That's a problem.

For example...on the national level, about 39% of Americans over 25 have an Associate's degree or higher. Muskegon County, a historically industrial region, is almost half that 22% holding an Associates degree or higher.

In addition to there being a reduction of jobs overall, the drag on the local economy here is exacerbated by the fact that a low percentage of workers have the skill set many modern businesses need. So industrial regions are at a competitive disadvantage.

The local community college is sort of the forefront of the effort to bring the workforce up to speed AFFORDABLY and in direct response to and in communication with the needs of local businesses.

This is something THIS administration understands. The direct infusion of cash to help community colleges connect with businesses and create programs and curriculums that train people to meet the needs of local employers is ENORMOUS. And it's a clear sign our President GETS it.

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