Shape of Obama “job training, vocational education and community college” Plan Emerging

You will recall that earlier this year President Obama mentioned that he was undertaking a “fundamental rethinking of our job training, vocational education, and community college programs”.  Earlier this month, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel reinforced this idea, noting that there would soon be a “major announcement”. 

While an announcement has not been officially made, details of a draft plan have emerged.  A story reported by Inside Higher Ed on June 29 focuses on four major elements of the draft.  The following description of what the draft includes is taken from the Inside Higher Ed article.  If you would like to read the entire article you can go to

Online classes:  “According to the draft materials from the administration, the program would support the development of 20-25 “high quality” courses a year, with a mix of high school and community college courses. Initial preference would go to “career oriented” courses. The courses would be owned by the government and would be free for anyone to take. Courses would be selected competitively, through peer review, for support.”

National Skills College: “Under the plan, the government would also support a “National Skills College” at a community college that would, among other things, work to develop examinations that could be given at the end of the courses so that colleges, employers and students could judge how much learning had taken place. Course developers would be asked to consult with colleges on standards, so that the offerings could be created with the goal of having credit transferred to many institutions.”

Job Training Programs: “The discussion draft for the job training program calls for spending $500 million a year in the first five years of the program, during which grants would be awarded competitively to community colleges, and $1.3 billion after that, at which point 50 percent of funds would be awarded by formula to states, 25 percent awarded to those states showing high performance programs, and 25 percent to community colleges, awarded competitively.  To be eligible, community colleges would need to agree to track and report on student outcomes, and to set targets for graduation rates and “employment-related outcomes,” while also serving “high need populations.”

Loan Fund for Facilities: “The loan fund for community college facilities would receive $10 billion under the plan. The loans would be for 10 years for repairs and renovations and 25 years for construction, and the plan calls for the loans to be “zero or low interest.” The funds would first be distributed to states, which would have to pledge that these funds would not cause states to cut funds for the colleges. States would distribute funds based on “demonstrated need,” with an emphasis on expanding capacity in programs that “meet employer needs in the areas of health care, green jobs, science, engineering and technology.”

 Specifics of this plan may still change as final adjustments are made, but a formal announcement of this plan may come as early as later this month.


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