Dept. of Labor Grant Supports Manufacturing

The U.S Department of Labor awards $5 million to consortium of Oregon community colleges

Late last year, Central Oregon Community College (COCC) partnered with Mt. Hood Community College, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission and seven other Oregon community colleges to apply for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Strengthening Community College Training Grant. This funding is designed to help institutions address the skill development needs of employers and support workers in gaining skills to transition quickly from unemployment to employment.

In January, the consortium of Oregon community colleges learned they had been awarded the full $5 million in requested funding. COCC will receive $80,000 per year for four years from the award, which the college will use to support advanced manufacturing workforce development in Central Oregon.

“As the nation recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, community colleges are critical partners to train the American workforce and build a pipeline of workers in critical industries,” said Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training John Pallasch. “The Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants will play an important role in helping workers to reskill as quickly as possible with industry-recognized credentials and accelerated pathways to degrees.”

Advanced manufacturing is a dynamic industry in Oregon that relies on community colleges to produce a skilled workforce. “COCC is the Central Oregon resource for the skills and knowledge employees need to succeed in a career in manufacturing,” said Michael Fisher, dean of instruction. “Students learn in several key areas,” added Joe Huddleston, Manufacturing Technology program director. “These include welding, machine tool, CNC, metal fabrication, automation, machine learning and real-time data.” Graduates from these program areas are employed in sectors ranging from renewable energy to aviation.

To meet the region’s workforce demands, COCC will invest its award funding in equipment and facilities on the college’s Redmond campus. COCC will also work with regional manufacturing partners, including the Bend-based CV International, to provide integrated education and training (IET), short-term certifications and stackable credentials, as well as hands-on training including internships and apprenticeships.

“We fully support the core elements of this project and look forward to launching this initiative,” said Dale Riggs, director of engineering at CV International. “As an employer partner for this project, we will endeavor to provide paid internships and cooperative work experiences to COCC students and graduates. We will offer students exposure to and hands-on time with manufacturing. And qualified trainees will be interviewed as potential employees.”

“This award showcases community colleges’ unique ability to collaborate and forge key industry partnerships,” noted Dr. Laurie Chesley, president of COCC. “We’re committed to building the workforce Central Oregon needs, and to doing so quickly, affordably and effectively.”

Learn more about COCC’s Manufacturing Technology program. Read the U.S. Department of Labor’s news release on the award.

Dept. of Labor Grant