US. Department of Labor Looks to Community Colleges to Build the Nation’s Workforce

AACC to Lead Efforts to Build Apprenticeship Network

Community colleges provide a pathway to educational and career success for millions of students. That pathway is recognized as a key component to increasing the number of skilled workers in the United States.  The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor to launch a major initiative to dramatically increase the number of apprentices entering the workforce.

The Virtual Apprenticeship Network (VAN) will drastically increase the number of apprentices across the country by providing resources to America’s community colleges and employers to create 16,000 new apprenticeships.  “These are not apprentices in name only,” said Walter G. Bumphus, AACC’s president and CEO.  “These are industry-relevant apprenticeship programs that are recognized and/or registered and will result in thousands of students that are job-ready and a newly imagined network of apprenticeships that will serve industry employers’ needs for decades to come.”

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The program will identify, validate, and promote highly successful apprenticeship models and work-based learning programs that can be rapidly ramped up into full apprenticeship programs, create a Virtual Apprenticeship Network that connects community colleges and employees looking for training opportunities, and fund 80 community colleges that exhibit the ability to support the rapid expansion of local partnerships to garner 12,000 new apprentices in three years.  In addition, AACC will work with four globally recognized companies and their local community colleges to develop and implement specific programs designed to ensure their specific needs for qualified and trained employees are met. These partners will each commit to training 1,000 apprentices within the three year timeframe.

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“We are so proud to partner with the Department of Labor on this critical work,” Bumphus said. “It is imperative that we continue to advance student success in all of its forms.  Creating new and better ways at the intersection of students and employers just makes sense and we are excited to build something that will have a lasting impact for students, employers, and for the American economy.”

As the voice of the nation’s community colleges, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), delivers educational and economic opportunity for 12 million diverse students in search of the American Dream. Uniquely dedicated to access and success for all students, AACC’s nearly 1,200 member colleges provide an on-ramp to degree attainment, skilled careers and family-supporting wages. Located in Washington, D.C., AACC advocates for these not-for-profit, public-serving institutions to ensure they have the resources and support they need to deliver on the mission of increasing economic mobility for all.