Through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant Program, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) aimed to increase the ability of community colleges to address the challenges of today’s workforce. TAACCCT funding allowed community colleges to develop or design more than 2,000 programs of study to help adults learn skills that lead to family-supporting jobs.

TAACCCT grants helped strengthen the nation’s institutions of higher education as engines of economic opportunity where adults can succeed in acquiring the skills, degrees, and credentials necessary for high-wage, high-skill employment.

The IERTC TAACCCT Program

With its TAACCCT grant, the Inland Empire Regional Training Consortium (IERTC), with guidance and leadership from Chaffey College, implemented an initiative across 12 colleges in the Inland Empire region of Southern California to expand job training and education, along with access to employment for unemployed and underemployed regional workers.

The IERTC approach used a multi-level partnership model that included manufacturing employers, community colleges, and workforce development entities to connect the advanced manufacturing sector in the Inland Empire with skilled workers. The initiative also aimed to strengthen the Inland Empire’s economy by providing students and unemployed or underemployed workers with pathways to pursue rewarding careers in advanced manufacturing.

Training Designed for Employment

The IERTC used multiple strategies to prepare students for employment opportunities. These strategies included hands-on instruction and assessment, preparation for industry-recognized credentials, and a focus on topics relevant to in-demand career fields. Some programs offered hybrid online courses with a combination of virtual and in-person instruction. To help connect classroom learning to employment opportunities, programs provided students with job readiness and placement services, such as soft skills training, career fairs, employment referrals, career coaching, and internship programs. During the grant, colleges developed courses that were highly targeted to the students and employers they served.

Specific IERTC curriculum strategies included:

  • Flexible training options
  • Industry-relevant credentials
  • Hands-on instruction
  • On-the-job training opportunities
  • Soft skills training
  • Focus on in-demand skills areas
  • Responsive to industry and student needs

Colleges were responsive to feedback in refining their courses, and they recognized the importance of a dynamic training model that will continue to evolve over time to meet local needs.

Regional Capacity Building and Program Impact

During the grant, programs connected students to high-paying jobs and helped them get started on a successful career pathway. College staff and students shared how the students were getting jobs and wage increases once they completed the program. Further, employers not only hired students from the program, but also sent their current employees to

“The economic impact is huge, because we’re going to allow our local residents an opportunity to have high skills, a high-paying job that will sustain a family, which is going to drive the entire economic sustainability of the region up.

Employer partner

receive training as well.

Throughout the program, the IERTC colleges built their capacity to offer training to the region. They developed a diverse set of training courses, including for-credit and not-for-credit courses and programs that offered accelerated formats and stacked credentials. Many of these programs will continue to be offered after the TAACCCT grant ends, although they will be supported by other funding sources and adapted to meet current needs.

As a result of IERTC’s program innovation and outreach, the consortium’s programs received recognition at the state and national levels. Over the long term, program stakeholders expect that the impact of the initiative will continue to grow as more individuals and businesses are affected.

The final report will be available in the coming weeks. If you are interested in reading more, please reach out to Kathy.Karageorge@icf.com.

Author: Kathy Karageorge, Ph.D., Senior Technical Specialist, ICF

Kathy Karageorge is a Senior Technical Specialist at ICF, where she works with public, private, and community-based organizations to help vulnerable families and individuals achieve economic and social stability by building knowledge, improving skills, and applying evidence-based practices.

Multiple staff at ICF contributed to the IERTC project, including Dr. Astrid Hendricks, Dr. Miriam Jacobson, Ms. Nicole Wright, and Dr. Kathy Karageorge.

The views expressed in In Focus are exclusively those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect official positions of their employers or clients. References to materials or services in the public domain do not imply endorsement from those entities.