Duckworth bill aims to build community college-workforce partnerships
Late last week, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Dist. 8) and U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) introduced complementary legislation in their respective chambers designed to close the “skills gap,” a condition that currently makes it difficult for small businesses and other employers to locate qualified candidates for unfilled jobs.
The Community College to Career (CC2C) Fund Act would support innovative partnerships between community colleges, technical colleges and a variety of businesses to train students with specified technical skills and allow them to fill high-demand jobs.
The groundbreaking measure aims to build off of successful public-private partnership models already in place, such as the Zurich Insurance Apprenticeship at Harper College in Palatine or the new Kenmode Tool & Die Making Apprenticeship program at Elgin Community College. These programs would essentially bring two-year colleges and area businesses together nationwide with the plan of training millions of Americans for jobs within numerous high-skill industries.
“I am proud to join Senator Al Franken to introduce the Community College to Career Fund Act, which promotes partnerships between community colleges and local businesses to train workers for well-paying jobs in high-demand industries,” Duckworth said. “I have heard from employers throughout the Eighth District and across Illinois, and one of their main concerns is the shortage of qualified applicants for their unfilled jobs. Having access to innovative workforce development programs, like those at Harper College and Elgin Community College, is vital to supporting our local economies and keeping America competitive.”
The Community College to Career Fund Act would establish a model that not only places workers in vacant jobs, but also would lower the costs of education for students and keeps the United States more competitive in the global market. Part of this model would be the creation of a competitive grant program, providing funds for partnerships among businesses and two-year colleges. These partnerships will focus on valuable specific job training-related efforts, such as registered apprenticeships, on-the-job training opportunities and compensated internships. These programs would allow low-income students to earn credit for work-based learning in a high-skilled field and set themselves up for a career directly following college.
“The CC2C Act will give community colleges the resources they need to address the skills gap, not only in manufacturing, but other sectors like health care, clean energy and IT,” Duckworth said.
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