Leading Policymakers Discuss Workforce Innovation, Agency Programs and Funding Opportunities at the TA3 Policy Forum in Washington, DC
Member colleges from the Trans-Atlantic Technology and Training Alliance (TA3) convened at One Washington Circle Hotel to hear from a diverse line-up of national experts representing five federal agencies, a policy think tank, foundations and a regional commission. The TA3 is a consortium of leading community and technical colleges in the U.S. and Europe that promotes learning and innovation across borders, supports regional economies, and promotes the value and importance of a global perspective. Speakers offered perspectives on recent and pending legislation, the impact of political changes on workforce initiatives and funding, and successful programs underway around the country. Community college representatives shared experiences and made valuable connections.
Mary Ann Pacelli and Mark Troppe from NIST – MEP kicked off the morning by discussing their state program initiatives for accelerated industry skill development, as well as the paid internship model, part of Right Skills Now. Celeste Carter, NSF – ATE noted the impact a flat budget has had on the ability to fund students in advanced technology fields, while also aiming to increase representation of veterans and minorities in these fields. Several upcoming funding opportunities were shared with members as well.
The U.S. Department of Labor panel featured Gerri Fiala, Laura Ginsberg and Randall Smith who focused on changes to the public workforce system as a result of the Workforce Investment and Innovation Act (WIOA), the benefits of registered apprenticeships and employment initiatives, and supports in place for outreach and services for veterans.
Over lunch, members and speakers were treated to a video conference call with Michael Gould from the Department for Employment and Learning, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, who will host the TA3 June Symposium! After a brief introduction about the country and culture, Michael shared the draft schedule for the four day event that will take place June 7-10, 2015 and will feature keynote speakers from Europe and the United States, and well as workshop sessions in the afternoons. The theme will be “Building on Success – Bringing Business and Educators Closer Together”.
Maureen Conway and John Colborn from the Aspen Institute discussed the role of community colleges in sector strategies and how non-profits can most effectively work with industry.
Jeff Schwartz shared the unique geography and demographics of the Appalachian Region and how the Appalachian Regional Commission works with employers and supports community colleges in the rapidly changing regional economy.
Doug O’Brien and Alex Jones of the U.S. Department of Agriculture outlined the Rural Development initiative, which has a Community and Economic Development Mission and a $200 billion dollar portfolio. The discussion focused on the USDA’s intent to break the cycle of rural poverty by strategically funding and meeting goals set by state directors.
To close the day, Mark Mitsui from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE), encouraged members to watch the State of the Union for forthcoming federal funding opportunities, including the American college promise proposal for free tuition at community colleges.
Members noted that the day gave them an insider look at the emerging policy landscape in the U.S., enabled them to make valuable connections they would not otherwise have access to and provided a forum for peer sharing and learning.