MILWAUKEE (June 4, 2009) – The federal government is launching a $7 million grant competition to retrain displaced workers, according to Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, who spoke at a news conference/listening session held at Milwaukee Area Technical College this morning.
"Community and technical colleges can help experienced professionals learn new skills to work in emerging industries, like renewable energy, or retrain to fill critical shortages in engineering, nursing and other fields," said Duncan. "Milwaukee Area Technical College, and community colleges across this nation, represent that opportunity to reinvent our workforce. The dedicated, hard-working professionals who will come to our community colleges to learn a new career are the same people who will rebuild our cities and towns. Education is the catalyst for a strong economy."
The federal government will award 28 grants by mid-September with projects beginning on or about Oct. 1. The three-year grant awards will average between $300,000 to $750,000.
Suggested uses for the monies include tutoring, academic and career counseling, help with registration, as well as programs to remove financial constraints related to child care, transportation and textbooks.
Duncan was joined on stage by Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, Manpower Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Joerres and MATC Interim President Dr. Vicki Martin, all of whom talked about the ability of technical colleges to help restart the economy.
(left to right) U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, MATC Interim President Dr. Vicki Martin, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle and Manpower Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Joerres.
Duncan said, "Community colleges and technical colleges have been absolutely undervalued. We’re trying to shine the spotlight on these schools."
Gov. Doyle said, "What I love about the technical colleges is that anyone who really wants to work hard can walk in these doors and get an education and improve their lives. It doesn’t matter if you’re a single mother with lots of children or someone who has been incarcerated but looking for a new start. It’s the one door in Wisconsin you can walk through and receive training."
"Of the top 10 most difficult jobs to fill, nine of them are taught here," said Joerrres. He said that technical colleges train for "in-place" jobs – those that cannot be outsourced overseas. "For instance, you can’t outsource a plumber. Many parents, friends and neighbors push students into liberal arts, but a lot of those students end up waiting tables. Not to take anything away from those studies, but many people need to retrain for a practical skill. Many of the skills taught at technical colleges are "in-place" jobs. They’re careers, not just jobs."
The crowd of media, displaced workers and MATC students, faculty and staff listened to personal stories of several MATC students and graduates who had been displaced workers and returned to college for retraining in different careers. They all emphasized that MATC was the place they could come to retrain and rebuild their lives.
Duncan is one of several cabinet secretaries and President Obama administration officials traveling to communities in the Midwest that have been seriously affected by the crisis in the auto industry.
View more information from the U.S Deparment of Education here:
Here is a sampling of media coverage of Secretary Duncan's visit to MATC:
Community College Times
Duncan announces new grants for displaced workers
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
U.S. makes grants available to train displaced workers
WDJT TV 58
Helping laid-off workers
Education secretary visits Milwaukee to unveil grant program for displaced workers
WISN TV 12
Secretary Of Education Announces Grants For Technical Colleges
Education Secretary Announces Grants to Retrain Workforce