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Asheville-area colleges get funds for worker retraining



9/28/2011 - Asheville-area colleges get funds for worker retraining
by Dale Neal - Asheville Citizen Times

SO many good reasons to invest in the people of Western North Carolina and beyond!


                      WAYNESVILLE -- Haywood Community College won a $2 million share of federal workforce development funds awarded to 10 North Carolina community colleges to retrain displaced workers for advanced manufacturing jobs.

Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College will receive $357,645 to better support workers returning to school for new job skills.

Officials said the money would be used to train low-skilled workers with basic computer skills and other job skills while boosting their graduation rates.

"Haywood Community College is extremely pleased to have received funding that will enable the college to expand its advanced manufacturing educational opportunities," said Rose Johnson, the college president. "As one of 10 community colleges in the N.C. 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."

The schools in the consortium will share $18.8 million over three years, part of $500 million in federal grants that went to 32 community colleges and partnerships nationwide. More than 200 schools had applied for the competitive grants.

"Workforce development is the key that drives our local economy," said A-B Tech President Hank Dunn.

"Area manufacturers are in need of skilled employees, and A-B Tech provides the training tools needed in order to meet the demand. The grant we received with the N.C. Advanced Manufacturing Alliance from the U.S. Department of Labor will allow our program to grow and train displaced and underemployed manufacturing workers. This, in turn, will add to positive economic growth."

The alliance aims to quickly assess, train and certify displaced manufacturing workers in 17 counties across North Carolina. Besides accelerating job training for low-skilled workers, the colleges will build new programs to meet industry needs and bolster online learning.

Other schools involved in the alliance are Robeson, Beaufort County, Craven, Fayetteville, Nash, Edgecombe, Davidson County and Surry community colleges.

"I am pleased that this announcement provides North Carolina community colleges -- the best in the country -- with funding that will expand their ability to place more people in high-quality jobs in fields ranging from welding to health care to biotechnology," said U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, who has championed the alliance.

The money can only be used for retraining workers, A-B Tech officials said. The school is seeking approval from Buncombe voters in November for a quarter-cent sales tax to finance improvements for the school's buildings.

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