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Wednesday, 05 October 2011 13:16

HCC gets $2 million grant to re-train workers

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Two million dollars in grant money is coming to Haywood Community College for laid-off workers to find a new place in the workforce.

The money is part of a grant from the Department of Labor that’s been handed out across the state. HCC got the funding by going in with nine other community colleges to try for money from the advanced workforce training pot.

“As one of 10 community colleges in the NC Advanced Manufacturing Alliance, HCC will participate in the creation of a new learning model to place the unemployed, dislocated workers and others in viable advanced manufacturing jobs,” said HCC President Rose Johnson in a statement.

The funding is geared towards training in advanced manufacturing, giving the unemployed an avenue into the more skilled sectors of manufacturing.

Schools in the alliance will share a total of $18.8 million over a three-year period.

Local and regional manufacturing outfits such as Sonoco Products, Consolidated Metco and West CATV Supplies are also a part of the project, along with Workforce Development Boards and JobLink centers across the state.

In total, the money will help unemployed workers in 17 counties, including Haywood and Buncombe, where A-B Tech also got a cut of the grant, though its share was much smaller at $357,645.

Across the country, only 32 community colleges were awarded funds from the $500 million grant allocation, though 200 applied.

A large component of the programs funded by the grant will obviously be designed to retrain low-skill workers, but the colleges will also be working with the industries these students are likely to end up in, assessing their needs and tailoring the programs to meet them. Online learning will also be given a boost by the money.

Elsewhere in the state, Robeson, Beaufort County, Craven, Fayetteville, Nash, Edgecombe, Davidson County and Surry community colleges are a part of the alliance that won the funds.

Officials at HCC said it was a bit too early to announce with certainty exactly what the influx of cash will fund; the awards were only handed out last week.

But a committee was scheduled to meet over the weekend to discuss just where the money should go.

There are, however, restrictions on what can be done with it. The federal grant can only be used to retrain workers and improve their skills, not for other college projects like building repairs.

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