To Expand Tuition-Free Community College
Vice President Joe Biden has announced a commitment to make $100 million available through the Department of Labor to expand high quality education and training programs that give Americans the skills most in-demand from regional employers for middle-to high-skilled jobs.
“These kinds of partnerships can help tens of thousands of students get the education and skills training they need to succeed in good-paying, middle class jobs,” Biden said, in prepared remarks. “I’ve traveled the country and seen firsthand that these kinds of programs are preparing students for jobs in industries like IT, health care, cyber security and energy. These are the kinds of investments that will allow us to outcompete the world,” the Vice President reportedly said.
According to whitehouse.gov, the grants will be awarded to pilot and scale innovative tuition-free partnerships between employers, economic development, workforce development boards, community and technical colleges and systems, training programs, K-12 education systems, and community-based organizations that will strengthen the pipeline of Americans ready for in-demand jobs, bridge students’ educational opportunities and employer needs, and attract more jobs from overseas.
It also listed the following activities as a means of pivoting Americans into the middle class:
Increase opportunities for all Americans.
With the rising costs of higher education, post-secondary education may feel out of reach for many Americans. Grantees will develop strategies to increase tuition-free opportunities for unemployed, underemployed, and low-income workers to enter skilled occupations and industries. Grantees will use and align existing resources to help sustain and scale up programs.
Expand employer engagement.
These regional partnerships from employers to support program design and delivery and identify skills and competencies needed to meet businesses’ needs. Employer partners will offer innovative ways for skills attainment through work-based learning and customized ‘upskilling’ strategies to move low-skilled individuals up a career pathway with registered apprenticeship, paid-work experience, and paid internship opportunities.
Strengthen education and training performance.
Grantees will reduce the need for remediation, and increase skills development through evidence-based interventions. Grantees are encouraged to use evidence-based designs that can increase the employability, employment, earnings, and educational outcomes of students, while supporting employers’ economic growth.
“With these grants, students will be able to attend these programs tuition free—so they can use their Pell Grants and other financial aid to pay for books, supplies, childcare, transportation, and other living expenses—instead of having to go into overwhelming debt,” Biden further said.
Yvad Billings, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Jesus Chan
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