$1.9 Million Grant Shapes Employer-Driven Training

Calhoun Community College’s Math, Science and Computer Science building on its Huntsville campus, which was opened in 2016.

Calhoun Community College recently received a five-year $1.9 million U.S. Department of Education Title III grant to create a Pathways to Success program for workforce development training.

The program will provide a framework for Calhoun’s transition from fragmented, a-la-cart scheduling to a structured, employer-driven model that includes work-based learning components in associate of applied science degree programs beginning at the high school level.

According to Debi Hendershot, dean for Planning, Research and Grants, over the past decade, the area Calhoun serves has experienced significant growth, with an influx of high-tech defense and manufacturing companies, as well as the opening of the FBI Tennessee Valley Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory, housed on Redstone Arsenal. This economic growth rate has resulted in low unemployment rates and a shortage of skilled workers in cyber security, networking and industrial maintenance.

“To address this shortage, Calhoun has increased enrollment in dual enrollment career/technical programs, established a Career Services Department and opened a new Math, Science and Computer Science building on the Huntsville campus to expand academic programs in nursing, welding and computer information systems,” Hendershot said.

The Pathways to Success program will include work-based learning, which bridges theoretical knowledge and hands-on practice, as well as enhancing graduate employability.

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“We are fortunate to have implemented a dedicated career services department three years ago and are especially thankful to our current 40-plus co-op partners who offer work-based learning opportunities to students in a variety of majors,” Hendershot said. “This grant will allow Calhoun Community College to streamline education with experience to increase the overall value for our students, while creating a talent pipeline for local employers in this time of economic growth.”

The grant is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s mission to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness.

Joe Burke, Calhoun interim president, said, “We are so thankful to the U.S. Department of Education for its investment in support of Calhoun’s efforts to not only prepare the future workforce but to also provide our students with affordable yet high-quality education.”

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