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Federal money to help students train for family-wage careers in cybersecurity, manufacturing

PMG FILE PHOTO  - A $5 million federal grant will help folks statewide train for in-demand, family wage careers.

Mt. Hood Community College and eight other Oregon community colleges received a $5 million federal grant to boost students' access to cybersecurity and advanced manufacturing workforce training.

"We know cybersecurity and advanced manufacturing is predicted to be an area of growth and need that will provide a number of well-paid and rewarding jobs," MHCC President Lisa Skari said in the announcement.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced the Strengthening Community College Training Grant awards, which total $40 million nationwide.

The grants are designed to support workers as they gain new skills and set out on new career paths in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and damaged economy.

MHCC was the first community college in Oregon to offer an Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity and Networking, the college said in the announcement. MHCC's advanced manufacturing programs include welding, engineering design and other disciplines.

"We are excited to work with our community college, workforce and business partners as we expand access to these educational offerings for those who are eager to enter or re-enter the workforce with timely skills that will be in demand," Skari said.

The $5 million consortium grant will pay for a statewide project director. The director will gather best practices among cybersecurity and advanced manufacturing community college programs and workforce partners.

This effort will lead to updates to program curriculum, offering credentials directly tied to employment and career advancement, alignment of policies related to credit transfer and program governance and more. Ideally, the credentials will be "stackable" so that someone could get a certificate or degree and then come back for more education to advance their career further.

In addition to increasing access to cybersecurity and advanced manufacturing training, the grant will also be used to address challenges associated with remote learning, including improving accessibility to workforce training opportunities that must be offered online due to pandemic restrictions.

Other institutions participating in the grant are Central Oregon, Clackamas, Chemeketa, Lane, Klamath, Portland, Rogue and Southwestern Oregon community colleges.

Workforce development system partners include WorkSystems, the Oregon Workforce Partnership, Oregon Workforce Talent Development Board and several others. Businesses such as Amazon Web Services, EnergySec, McKinstry and others joined the consortium as employer partners.

The Oregon Consortium for Strengthening Community Colleges is the only recipient of a Strengthening Community College Training Grant in the state and one of just 11 nationwide, the announcement said.

Kay Lopez, dean of Applied Technologies, Business and Information Systems at MHCC said in a statement, "We have a robust group representing an immense amount of expertise that will strengthen cybersecurity education and job opportunities throughout the state."


Cybersecurity and Advanced Manufacturing at MHCC

The MHCC Cybersecurity and Networking program is acknowledged by the National Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security as a Center for Academic Excellence.

The college is also home to the Oregon Center for Cybersecurity, which provides access to information security and information assurance resources. The college's advanced manufacturing programs and courses include mechatronics, machining, welding, fabrication, engineering design, additive manufacturing and the use of artificial intelligence in manufacturing and design.

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