CCAC and local businesses join forces to advocate for federal investment in education and workforce programs that prepare workers for in-demand fields

Article by: CCAC Public Relations

PITTSBURGH-The Community College of Allegheny County, Catalyst Connection and DMI Industries joined 50 other business leaders and community college partners from 15 states in Washington, D.C., this month to speak with senators and representatives, including leadership on the Senate and House education and workforce committees, to discuss the critical role that small- and medium-sized businesses should play as Congress develops and modernizes education and workforce policies. The attendees urged lawmakers to close the skills gap and invest in strategies that develop a pipeline of skilled, trained workers that meets the demand of growing industries.

At the meeting, dubbed the BLU (Business Leaders United) Fly-In, attendees discussed the need for Congress to modernize the Higher Education Act so it better supports today's students, who often work and attend school part time and who aren't necessarily earning four-year degrees. The business leaders and community college partners asked that Pell Grants be extended to career-oriented students in short-term programs that lead to better-paying jobs in in-demand fields, and to make postsecondary outcomes data easier for students and businesses to access.

"Congress passed the Perkins Act this year, which is a much-needed investment in career and technical education; however, there are other things Congress can do to close the skills gap and make it easier for businesses to find trained, skilled workers," said CCAC's Vice President for Workforce Development Theresa Bryant, who attended the conference. "Our country should support people who want to get the education and training they need to enter growing fields such as advanced manufacturing. And we should support partnerships between colleges and businesses that work together to build a pipeline of workers with in-demand skills."

The attendees also asked Congress to invest in collaborations between businesses and community colleges known as "sector partnerships," which is a proven strategy for building a pipeline of qualified, trained employees and can help facilitate the advancement of workers at all skill levels.

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