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Last week, the U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) was one of 23 academic institutions and consortia nationwide awarded a grant to expand private-public apprenticeship partnerships across the country. The Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies grants were awarded in three areas: information technology, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare. The $12 million grant received by ACCS and the Manufacturing Institute of the National Association of Manufacturing focuses on advanced manufacturing.
In Alabama, 5,000 students will benefit from the expanded training in advanced manufacturing. Nationally, the DOL expects the grants to support the training of more than 85,000 apprentices in new or expanded programs.
“Employers in Alabama are looking for individuals who are job-ready on day one and an apprenticeship is a great way for students to gain both the classroom training and real-world experience these employers are seeking,” said ACCS Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker. “The Alabama Community College System is honored to be just one of 23 entities across the nation who have received a Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies grant from the US Department of Labor to expand our apprenticeship programs to ensure opportunities for all Alabamians. We look forward to working with our partners at the Manufacturing Institute of the National Association of Manufacturers along with business and industry right here in Alabama to provide important and vital training for the thousands of advanced manufacturing jobs available in the state.”
Alabama’s community colleges will specifically use the grant for the following efforts:
• To expand the nationally-awarded earn-and-learn, Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education or F.A.M.E. program at Calhoun Community College and to extend that program to three additional colleges (Northwest-Shoals Community College, Wallace State Community College – Hanceville and Bishop State Community College).
• To implement quick-start pre-apprenticeship programs that lead to nationally recognized Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) certifications that prepare residents for in-depth apprenticeships or entry-level jobs in manufacturing;
• To implement short-term apprenticeship programs that place residents in one of several high-wage, in-demand occupations in advanced manufacturing.
The $183.8 million in grants is aimed specifically at increasing apprenticeship opportunities for all Americans, including veterans, military spouses and service members transitioning into the civilian workforce; and groups that are underrepresented in apprenticeships such as women, people of color and Americans transitioning from the justice system to the workforce. Recipients of the grants include colleges, universities, and state systems of higher education, in partnership with national industry associations, employers representing an industry sector and other partners.
According to the DOL, the funding is a result of Executive Order 13801 signed by President Trump on June 15, 2017, charging the Secretary of Labor to “consider establishing guidelines or requirements that qualified entities should or must follow to ensure that apprenticeship programs they recognize meet quality standards.” The Executive Order therefore created a Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion that approved recommendations to the president on May 10, 2018.