CMC included in $500M Labor Department grant |

CMC included in $500M Labor Department grant

Kathryn Corazzelli
Summit Daily News

Sen. Mark Udall announced Monday a group of Colorado community colleges, including Colorado Mountain College, has been selected to receive a $17.2 million grant to help train workers for new positions in high-wage, high-skill jobs.

The Colorado Online Energy Training consortium – a partnership of community colleges and private-sector employers led by the Community College of Denver – will receive the grant, designed to help community colleges create job-training programs in partnership with private employers in growing industries, including clean energy, mining, water-quality management and oil and gas. The schools will build instructional programs that meet specific industry needs, strengthening technology-enabled learning, and allowing students and workers to access free learning materials online.

The funding is part of a nearly $500 million grant the Labor Department has awarded to community colleges across the country.

CMC’s take is a little over $1 million, to be distributed over three years. The money will go toward strengthening the consortium’s solar and instrumentation curriculum, of which CMC already takes part, and move it into a hybrid format – part online, part classroom. It will be centered at the college’s Rifle campus.

“We’ll serve as the central college for that for all of Colorado,” CMC president Stan Jensen said. “It’s a big deal for us. We’ll be helping to lead the state with the solar and instrumentation curriculum.”

The money includes funds for full-time and adjunct instrumentation faculty, an instructional designer, career coach, coordinators and tutors, laptops, a 1-kilowatt solar system to use for training and a mobile training lab.

The grant mostly covers solar technology, but includes other things like geothermal applications and using existing natural gas and oil “in an integrated way to meet the energy needs of communities today.”

The instrumentation portion of the program – which teaches students how to coordinate buildings’ solar, heating and air circulation – is important since there are numerous jobs currently opening up in that field.

“We control a lot of our buildings centrally,” Jensen said.

The exact date of the first round of funding is not yet known, but Jensen expects it very soon. The college is already starting to move on program planning right now, but the start date is also currently unknown.

“This is a win-win for Colorado’s workers and employers. By enabling colleges to work directly with private employers, students will get the specific skills that make them competitive for higher-paying jobs in growing industries – and employers will get a well-trained workforce they can rely on,” Udall said. “Not only will this program help us put Coloradans to work, it will help strengthen our economy. This is the kind of investment we must make if we are going to position our state – and our nation – to win in the global economic race.”

The Denver Post contributed to this article.

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