Categorized | Education

UH community college consortium awarded $12.7M grant


Three colleges in the University of Hawaii System — University of Hawaii Maui College, Kauai Community College and Hawaii Community College — have been awarded $12.7 million from the U.S. Department of Labor for their consortium proposal for workforce development and training in rural Hawaii.

“The UH Community Colleges are a vital part of workforce development in Hawaii,” said UH Vice President for Community Colleges John Morton. “We are grateful for this U.S. Department of Labor grant that will allow us to better serve the counties of Maui, Kauai and Hawaii, and help build the workforce they need.”

UH Maui College Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto, Kauai Community College Chancellor Helen Cox, and Hawaii Community College Chancellor Noreen Yamane created the “Rural Hawaii” consortium to pool their efforts for the nationally competitive grant. Together, the colleges support five islands with UH Maui College also serving Lanai and Molokai.

“This grant reflects the common needs and opportunities in our neighbor island communities to connect our students and residents with competencies and possibilities that will be part of our economic future,” said UH Maui College Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto, who serves as the principal investigator for the project. “It further leverages active partnerships among our colleges and rural communities that address the potential of rural counties in Hawaii.”

Programs and courses will be updated, redesigned or introduced in business and accounting, geographic information systems (GIS), food innovation and safety, sustainability, electric vehicle automotive, and water/wastewater treatment. The courses will be delivered in hybrid formats including classroom and online modes with innovative assessment technologies to measure student learning and competencies.

“Teams from our three neighbor island colleges identified programs that would most benefit our local workforce, and employer partners who will work with us to recruit students, and provide internships and career opportunities once the students have completed training,” said UH Maui College Special Projects Coordinator Susan Wyche, grant writer-coordinator for the grant.

The Counties of Kauai, Maui and Hawaii, along with Maui Electric Company, Rural Corporation of Aqua Engineers, Dow AgroSciences, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, Jim Falk Automotive, U.S. Geological Survey and Princeville at Hanalei represent just a few of the neighbor island employers who partnered with the colleges.

Other partners include workforce organizations such as Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc., Big Island Workplace Connection, and U.S. Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Service.

The proposal also strengthens student services by adding staff to assess prior learning experiences, expanding career counseling, and supporting internships and placements.

It will also build capacity for tracking the education, training and services impact on students bound for further education or employment.

The program specifically targets workers who may have lost their jobs to overseas competition, as well as unemployed workers, workers seeking jobs requiring higher-level skills, and veterans transitioning to the workforce.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for Hawaii Community College to help strengthen and build our workforce on Hawaii Island by providing workforce development in areas that will contribute to the vitality of our local economy,” said Hawaii CC Chancellor Noreen Yamane.

“Kauai Community College is excited to be a part of this consortium of UH colleges,” said Kauai CC Chancellor Helen Cox. “This project will enable us to develop and strengthen programs that prepare students for jobs that are vitally important for our island community.”

The UH Community Colleges received a similar grant for $24.6 million in September 2011 as part of the first round of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative, a $2 billion, four-year investment designed to increase opportunities for the unemployed.

The U.S. Department of Labor is implementing and administering the program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education.

Speaking in Florida this week, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said: “These federal grants are part of the Obama administration’s ongoing commitment to strengthening American businesses by strengthening the American workforce. This strategic investment will enhance ties among community colleges, universities, employers and other local partners while ensuring that students have access to the skills and resources they need to compete for high-wage, high-skill careers.”

The Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative promotes skills development and employment opportunities in fields such as advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care, as well as science, technology, engineering and math careers through partnerships between training providers and local employers.

It complements President Obama’s broader goals to help ensure that every American has at least one year of postsecondary education and the United States has the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.

In total, 297 schools will receive grants as individual applicants or as members of a consortium. Educational institutions will use these funds to create affordable training programs that meet industry needs, invest in staff and educational resources, and provide access to free, digital learning materials.

All education materials developed through the grants will be available for use by the public and other education providers through a Creative Commons license.

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