By SHERRI KOLADE
DEARBORN — Henry Ford Community College will lead a consortium of 13 colleges after receiving a $15 million grant from the United States Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training program.
HFCC hosted a round table Oct. 1 to discuss job training partnerships among the 10-state consortium including Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Texas. The other Michigan community college involved in the consortium is Oakland Community College.
The roundtable discussion included HFCC partners from Chrysler, Ford, Marathon, Orbitak and Severstal.
The consortium plans to use the grant to create high-tech job training opportunities for workers in manufacturing.
On Sept. 19 the Labor Department announced 54 grants for nearly 300 schools across the country. The grants will create partnerships between community colleges and local employers, with hopes of encouraging skills development and employment opportunities in fields such as transportation, health care, advanced manufacturing, science, math, technology and engineering.
HFCC President Gail Mee said the grant brings important industry leaders to the table to form partnerships with colleges.
“All of the colleges who came to the table brought an industry partner with them,” Mee said. “This is a true partnership where our friends from Ford have been working with us for years to make this happen.”
Mee said the grant gives HFCC a chance to create a “career pathway.”
“A person can get stackable credentials, which means a person can get a certificate in manufacturing, maybe get a job and that certificate will be embedded into some kind of associate degree program,” Mee said. “We are creating partnerships with our four-year schools and universities to ensure those students can go on, transfer and be successful.”
During the roundtable discussion panelists such as Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers Director Jay Williams, U.S. Rep. John Dingell, state Rep. Morris Hood III, state Rep. George Darany, HFCC Director of Corporate Training Gary Saganski, Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr., Semca CEO Gregory Pitoniak and other panelists discussed the benefits of the grant.
Williams said the demand in manufacturing is booming.
“It is clear that we are seeing since perhaps the late 1990s an expansion in manufacturing in this country,”Williams said. “There were a lot of individuals who subscribed to that school of thought that our manufacturing days are behind us (and) that we don’t make things in this community anymore. Obviously they haven’t been to this part of the country. We make plenty of things not only here but across the country.”
Williams said more than 530,000 jobs have been added in manufacturing in the last 30 months. He added that 250,000 of those jobs have been added in auto manufacturing as a direct result of the president’s position that investing in the American worker pays off.
Dingell said the grant is a testament that Michigan takes business seriously.
“Henry Ford Community College is taking the lead of 13 community colleges, which are going to begin the process of moving forward in the system of education and graduate education for our people in industry and college life,” Dingell said. “It used to be that this system provided opportunities for people who had a two- year college experience rather than a four. Those days are gone, as are the days of manufacturing when you used to just have to have a weak mind and a strong back to work on the assembly line that was a mile long.”
For more information about the initiative, including a full list of grantees, go to www.doleta.gov/taaccct.