Dr. Robert Sobel (right) Director of Technology and Innovation FONA International, Inc. and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin talk after a press conference at Waubonsee Community College's downtown Aurora campus to announce a $2.8 million grant to re-educate displaced workers on Tuesday, September 25, 2010. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 27, 2012 6:11AM
AURORA — Waubonsee Community College students taking GED and English as a Second Language (ESL) courses will have a new opportunity to jump-start their careers, thanks to a $2.8 million federal grant.
The grant to WCC, announced at the college’s downtown Aurora campus Tuesday by Sen. Dick Durbin, will bolster opportunities in health care, professional, scientific and technical service occupational programs. The grant will also allow the college to develop a new laboratory technology program that will help students meet the vocational needs of local employers.
“This grant will help workers who have seen their manufacturing or industrial jobs outsourced or off-shored get back on track by teaching them skills that will help them compete for high-wage, high-demand jobs in the 21st century workforce,” Durbin said.
Earlier this year, WCC researched career needs across the Fox Valley and found more than 2,800 laboratory science-related jobs in the Aurora area alone. In response, the college has gotten commitments from several local partners to assist in the development of the new laboratory technology program.
Besides the $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, the college also received a second grant through a program led by Harper College in Palatine to develop a statewide network of advanced manufacturing programs.
This grant money will help the college develop GED and ESL coursework for health care and manufacturing, and provide advisors to help transition students from that coursework into the lab technician program.
Programs funded by the new grant will help students become qualified biological technicians, chemical technicians, food science technicians, environmental science technicians, and water and waste technicians.
“Too often I hear from unemployed workers struggling to make ends meet, yet at the same time I hear from employers who can’t find workers with the right training to fill vacant high-skill jobs,” Durbin said.