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Community Colleges / Job Retraining Programs: Getting back into the workforce

Community colleges have long played a key role as an entryway to better career opportunities for adults in the workforce. But with the job market more competitive than ever and the unemployment rate stubbornly stuck near 8%, community colleges across the country are launching new initiatives that are more aggressive in helping unemployed Americans find jobs.

The U.S. Department of Labor is pouring $2 billion into community college job retraining courses across the United States as part its Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which provides a variety of resources to unemployed individuals seeking new work. The money, administered in $500 million increments between 2011 and 2014, is being awarded to community colleges to develop programs to quickly teach workers new skills and establish relationships with businesses that have job openings…

College administrators acknowledge that the last step—actually getting a retrained worker back into the workforce—is the biggest challenge. “[Employers] want someone who has experience,” says Sylvia Elsayed, the project manager of JobTrak at the Community College of Allegheny County. “One of the biggest issues is giving people training who have no background in it and then placing them because they have no experience.”

Still, there are already some success stories. Brian Komlos, a resident of Conway, Pa., enrolled in CCAC’s retraining program in mechatronics after being laid off as a courier at an IT company in early 2010. In the class he learned about electrical circuitry, hydraulics, computerized control systems and how to provide maintenance to a variety of mechanical devices. By the end of the year he had a job making circuit breakers  at Eaton Corporation, an area electrical manufacturer.

“The mechatronics course strengthened my mechanical ability, for sure,” Komlos says. “It built my confidence up.”…

Choosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor from

via Community Colleges Offer Job Retraining Programs |

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The United States used to lead the world in educational attainment. We now rank 16th. Our low college graduation rates are not keeping pace globally or meet workforce demands over the next decade-plus, and are creating serious economic problems today.

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