The Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) is a grant issued by the Department of Labor which awards federal funding towards services focusing on students working towards reentering the workforce. Bellevue College applied and for three of the four rounds offered by the TAACCCT and was awarded the round one and two grants. Round one totaled to $24 million.
The TAACCCT Round one grant was awarded Sept. 30, 2012 to the National Information, Security and Geospatial Technology Consortium (NISGTC) which is led by Collins College in McKinney, TX and includes Bellevue College. “The grant was a little bit less than $20 million,” explained Judith Morel, Institute for Business & Information Technology (IBIT) director. “The seven colleges part of the grant each had various awards. Our college has $2.1 million.” The grant expires Sept. 2015. The grant funds went to the IBIT department at Bellevue College to focus on students working towards information technology (IT) degrees and certificates.
The TAACCCT Round two grant awards were announced that same year by US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and will run for two more years than the round one grant. The round two grant is still being worked on by Bellevue College and is managed by Life Sciences Informatics Executive Director Patricia Dombrowski. The grant will focus on Health IT training and job placement for Veterans and their family members. Vice President Joe Biden announced the round four grant award winners on Oct. 2, 2014 but Bellevue College was not among them.
Instead, it focuses on providing resources and benefits to students working towards networking, security, programming, database, business intelligence and mobile and cloud technologies which does not include everything represented by the IBIT department. “Essentially, because it’s a Department of Labor grant,” said Morel, “it focuses on training, and then job placement.”
While any registered student working under the grant related IT curriculums can apply for these services, IBIT focuses students returning from employment. “We really focus on TAA students and those are students who have been laid off from their jobs and their companies have worked with the State of Washington and the federal government to ensure they get TAA benefits,” said Morel.
Specialist Leslie Gonzalez and Advisor Tejinder “TJ” Bajwa meet with students to discuss their education. “We do a lot of one-on-one stuff with about a good 600 students and every student is very different as far as their backgrounds. Sometimes we have career changers, sometimes we have students who haven’t done anything in IT,” explained Gonzalez. “Some of them who have 20 years in IT and then experiment with different types of IT. So I’ve seen students with about four or five certificates and they just kind of keep going. We have students with Ph.Ds in our program so they’re kind of all over the place.”
If students are registered at the college and are part of the relevant IT departments, they can be part of the TAACCCT grant at the IBIT department and ensure Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits. Students can access a private, state-of-the-art virtual lab for ease of access. Advisers are also available for students to complete their certificates and training efficiently, network with the IT industry, obtain internships, and assist with the job placement process. “We think that we help with retention because the students have someone they can go to if they have a problem or a question and not every student has such easy access to what we call a navigator or career advisor,” said Morel. “That’s our exclusive focus. No student will have access to that kind of technology without going through these classes and the grant has purchased a lot of hardware to enable that to happen.”