Obama Administration Looks to Community Colleges to Spark Job Growth

By Catherine Groux
Posted February 28, 2012 12:05 PM

The Obama Administration feels community colleges are important for the workforce.
The Obama Administration feels community colleges are important for the workforce.
As the 2012 presidential election approaches, the Obama Administration has focused on community colleges as a means to spark job growth and improve the economy. Recently, President Barack Obama visited Northern Virginia Community College to tell associate's degree seekers about his plan to set aside $8 billion in the fiscal 2013 budget to support their institutions. This money would allow two-year schools to pair up with local businesses to ensure that students are gaining the right skills they need to find jobs in high-growth industries upon graduation, The Associated Press reports.

The Community College to Career Fund would give 2 million American workers training in fast-growing fields, including healthcare, transportation and advanced manufacturing. As two-year community colleges can be relatively quick and affordable options for individuals to receive this type of training, Obama feels they need federal backing.

"This should be an engine of job growth all across the country, these community colleges, and that's why we've got to support them," Obama told his audience at Northern Virginia Community College.

In order to provide further assistance to two-year schools, Vice President Joe Biden and Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis recently traveled to North Carolina's Davidson County Community College to announce an additional $500 million in funding. According to a press release, this money is part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program.

Under this initiative, community colleges across the county can apply for these grants to receive a total of about $500 million in awards. Biden said the money will help community colleges form partnerships with local businesses to better prepare students for the workforce.

This announcement came during the final stop of Biden and Solis' Community College to Career bus tour, in which the political pair visited five states to highlight the importance of two-year schools in preparing a highly trained workforce.

"Building a well-educated workforce is critical for the ongoing strengthening of our economy," Solis said in a statement. "This week’s tour has been an extraordinary opportunity to meet students, educators and employers alike, highlighting how these grants bring community colleges and businesses together to give students the skills they need to compete for good jobs in growing industries."

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