The White House Summit on Community Colleges on October 5th is exciting
for so many reasons. For those of us who have spent decades in
education, it's the first time that community colleges have been
recognized at a presidential level. And more importantly, it is being
hosted by Dr. Jill Biden, a stellar educator who has chosen to proudly
be community college faculty. For a recovering teacher it doesn't get
much better than that.
So why would we at the Department of Labor be so excited about a
Community College Summit? Our system of Career One Stop Centers are a
great resource to help guide workers towards new career pathways and to
help them find future employment, but the community colleges are the
backbone of our public workforce system. Through our close
partnerships with the community college system, we prepare our workforce
for lucrative job opportunities that can lead to life-long careers in
high growth and emerging industries such as healthcare, technology and
For example, this year alone, we awarded $125 million in
Community-Based Job Training Grants to 41 community colleges and
organizations across the country. Our goal through those grants is to
help workers prepare for and secure good jobs. More than 156,474
individuals have received education and training through these grants.
Community colleges are helping get America back to work.
To put these CBJT grants in perspective, here are a handful of local
examples of how through our partnerships with community colleges, local
participants are benefitting from new job skills and already finding
jobs: Navarro College in Texas has teamed with North Central Texas
College to create a program that will educate, train, and certify
skilled workers for the Texas energy industry. Over 1,300 individuals
have received training through this grant, and over 550 have entered
employment. And at Saint Paul College (MN), workers are preparing for
employment in clinical laboratory and medical lab technician
occupations. To date, 510 participants have enrolled in training, and
106 have entered employment. And there are so many more.
Our community colleges are as diverse as the communities they serve
-but they are all committed to helping this country reach the
President's goal of at least one year of post-secondary education for
everyone. Their proven track record in offering state of the art
industry recognized credentials and a variety of degrees make them the
logical choice for job seekers and employers who are looking for high
quality academic and occupational training.
On October 5th we will hear about the promising work of those in
attendance, but it's important that we learn from more than just those
in DC. Anyone who wants to participate can go to www.WhiteHouse.gov/communitycollege to post a comment, send in a video, or ask a question.
We've also created a special online White House forum for others to
participate during the summit, and will be live-streaming the opening
and closing sessions.
The Department of Labor and the Department of Education have partnered
on a number of important initiatives in this Administration, but none is
better than our work with community colleges. Getting all students the
quality education that they need to achieve their dreams of degree
attainment and a solid career is a shared goal of our departments. The
White House Summit on Community Colleges is a fantastic step to move our
nation toward that goal!
Jane Oates is the Assistant Secretary for the Employment and Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor