Western Nevada College has been awarded a grant of $1,567,530 from the U.S. Department of Labor.
In addition, Great Basin College received $4,009,331 and Truckee Meadows Community College $3,201,968. The money will enable all three colleges to work together to dramatically expand programs aimed at getting “economically displaced” people back to work, said WNC President Carol Lucey.
“It’s designed to help people who were displaced by the events of the last five years,” she said.
Lucey said the money will be used for a variety of programs and do what WNC did with the intensive machine shop program that recently graduated 18 people with certifications from the National Institute of Metalworking Skills. All those students were paid internships with area businesses, then high-paying jobs, she said, and the manufacturers who backed the program got trained workers who could do the work they needed.
Using the federal money, she said, the colleges will do similar programs for a variety of other careers, such as welding, automotive training, IT and other high-tech certifications.
“We’re all working together, working as a consortium,” she said. “This is really the first major step for the community colleges of Nevada in striking out and saying we have a role to play in helping to fix the unemployment problem and basically solve the state’s economic issues.”
Those new programs, she said, will be created in cooperation with area business leaders, manufacturers and others.
That, Lucey said, will help bring businesses to Nevada.
“Our goal is that when one of these companies we’re trying to recruit says they hear Nevada has a bad reputation for no work force skills, we’ll say, ‘No, we can tailor a work program for you,’” she added. “We’ll do it.”
A spokesman for the Labor Department said those partnerships with business will help ensure that the training provides the practical skills those industries need from workers.
“Community colleges play a vital role in training Americans to meet the needs of employers today,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “As our economy continues to rebuild, businesses are looking for employees with the skills their company needs to stay competitive.”
The grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program.
“The grant will allow us to enhance and expand our very successful accelerated technical programs to further meet the skill needs of our industrial community,” said David Steiger, WNC director of Economic Development.
The funding is part of a nationwide program totaling $474.5 million awarded to support projects in at least 183 schools.