U.S. Labor Department grants $2.7 million to KCC for training

Kellogg Community College will receive $2.7 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to purchase manufacturing equipment and expand training programs as part of a nationwide effort to prepare unemployed workers for emerging jobs.

The three-year grant to KCC is part of an eight-college, $24.9 million effort in Michigan to support workforce preparation and employer needs in advanced manufacturing. KCC is a member of the Michigan Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing, which sought the grant on behalf of eight community colleges around the state.

Statewide, an estimated 2,738 people will be trained through the colleges’ grant-funded programs. As a result of the funding, KCC expects approximately 400 additional people to participate in its workforce development programming, which includes industry- and job-specific training in the fields of welding, machining and other careers.

“We at KCC are dedicated to helping local workers get prepared or stay prepared for the new jobs being created in our communities,” said Dr. Dennis Bona, president of KCC. “This grant from the federal government is a major boost to our efforts and we are grateful to the Department of Labor for recognizing and funding the vital economic support that community colleges across the country provide.”

KCC intends to use its $2.7 million grant over the next three years to replace and upgrade equipment at its Regional Manufacturing Technology Center and pay for a variety of program expansions operated under the College’s Industrial Trades and Workforce Solutions programs which target the growing demand for manufacturing employees.

The grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program, a multiyear, nearly $2 billion initiative to expand targeted training programs for unemployed workers, especially those impacted by foreign trade. Fifty-seven program grants were announced last week that will provide a total of $474.5 million to support 190 projects across the country.

The planned investment in expanding training and technology is vital to meet increasing employer demands for skilled workers in the region. In 2013, several new companies and existing employers have announced new productions or expansions that are expected to bring more than 1,000 new manufacturing employment opportunities to the area over the next two to three years. Manufacturing job opportunities – already in demand and expected to grow in Calhoun County and surrounding areas – include entry-level, skilled trades, technical, engineering, administration and management positions.

“The funding award is great news for our employers, our workforce and for our economy,” said Karl Dehn, president and chief executive officer of Battle Creek Unlimited. “The new and expanded training programs will be critical to meet our employers’ growing needs for skilled and ready talent. In addition, it’s important to recognize that these investments in education and training will give individuals the opportunity to secure higher skills and, in turn, will lead to higher income levels. I applaud Kellogg Community College and the other collaborating colleges around the state for developing strategies to substantially increase training capabilities for our employers and our workforce.”

Nationwide, the grants will expand programs in growing industries, such as advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care, and encourage geographic and industry sector collaboration through the development of both statewide and multistate college consortia. The U.S. Department of Labor is implementing and administering the program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education. All course materials developed using these public funds will be available through the Open Educational Resources initiative so that others can access and build on successful training models. The U.S. Department of Commerce also is encouraging employers to collaborate with local colleges eligible for funding through this program.

“These investments in demand-driven skills training bring together education, labor, business and community leaders to meet the real-world needs of the changing global marketplace,” said Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. “These partnerships strengthen not only the American workforce, but the American economy as well.”

For more news about Kellogg Community College, view our latest press releases online at daily.kellogg.edu/category/press-releases.