UWA receives grant for workforce training

Published 1:34 pm Monday, September 24, 2012

The University of West Alabama has received a U.S. Department of Labor grant that will aid in workforce training for the Black Belt region. The $2,195,132 technical training grant is the largest federal grant in the institution’s history.

UWA, through a collaborative effort of its Industrial Maintenance Division of the College of Business and Division of Outreach Services, along with area service agencies and industry, will establish a comprehensive industrial technology training model for Trade Adjustment Assistance-eligible workers and other adults.

Billy McFarland, director of UWA’s Center for Business and Economic Services, said that UWA’s pursuit of this grant is one of several efforts intended to decrease the rate of unemployment in the area. McFarland said that integration with business and industries will ensure that students gain the skills they need to play active roles in the workforce.

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“We are not only excited about filling a technical training gap in the Black Belt region, but we also look forward to serving nontraditional students in an innovative training format that will help put our citizens back to work in skilled positions,” McFarland said.

The goal for the program is to train workers in three tracks designed to lead to industry-recognized certificates and associate and bachelor’s degrees for high-wage and high-skilled employment.

The Applied Manufacturing Technology Program will provide customized training in manufacturing skills and technologies incorporated in all major manufacturing industries located within the institution’s eight-county primary service area, including Choctaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Pickens, Sumter and Wilcox counties in Alabama. The program will serve 245 students. McFarland expects the program to begin in the early part of 2013.

The announcement comes with that of $500 million in grants to community colleges and universities around the country for the development and expansion of innovative training programs. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced the grants as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative, which promotes skills development and employment opportunities in fields such as advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care, as well as science, technology, engineering and math careers through partnerships between training providers and local employers.

Educational institutions will use grant funds to create affordable training programs that meet industry needs, invest in staff and educational resources, and provide access to free, digital learning materials. All education materials developed through the grants will be available for use by the public and other education providers through a Creative Commons license.

These grants emphasize evidence-based program design. Each grantee is required to collect rigorous student outcome data annually and conduct final evaluations at the end of the grant period to build knowledge about which strategies are most effective in placing graduates in jobs.

The U.S. Department of Labor is implementing and administering the program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education. To learn more about the program visit http://www.doleta.gov/taaccct.

For more information on the University of West Alabama, visit www.uwa.edu.