Officials at Pulaski Technical College today enthusiastically endorsed President Bush's State of the Union announcement of a new initiative to expand workforce training capacity at community colleges.
Jobs for the 21st Century is a comprehensive plan to better prepare workers for jobs in the new millennium by strengthening post-secondary education and job training and improving high school education. It includes more than $500 million in new federal funding for education and job training programs.
Dr. Dan F. Bakke, college president, said the proposal, if enacted, would help Pulaski Tech and other community colleges meet the workforce training and education needs of the people, businesses and industries of Arkansas.
"President Bush's proposal addresses a pressing problem at exactly the right moment in time in Arkansas education," Bakke said. "We at Pulaski Tech are encouraged to know that the President embraces our essential role in helping workers gain needed skills."
"The positive reaction among members of Congress to the President's proposal was evident," Bakke said. "We hope this initiative marks the beginning of a new federal commitment to community colleges and their role in promoting economic growth and individual development."
Community colleges provide a broad spectrum of programs, Bakke said, delivering high-quality and cost-effective education to those who are unemployed, under-employed, or seeking to enhance their career prospects and quality of life.
Community colleges also play a leading role in meeting extreme labor shortages in such critical career areas as nursing and other healthcare professions, information technology and teaching.
"Pulaski Tech has been identified by central Arkansas industry leaders as one of the most responsive higher education institutions in the state," Bakke said. "With an average annual tuition of about $2,000, we are also one of the most accessible."
The Jobs for the 21st Century plan is designed to expand opportunities for workers to access post-secondary education to get the job training and skills to compete in a changing and dynamic economy and fill jobs in emerging industries - including $250 million to fund partnerships between community colleges and employers in high-demand job sectors and $33 million for expanded Pell Grants for low-income students who complete rigorous coursework in high school.