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$5 million grant goes to Forsyth Tech. The college will lead a regional effort to improve training for manufacturing jobs.

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Forsyth Tech will use a new $5 million federal grant to lead a regional effort aimed at improving educational programs that lead to manufacturing jobs.

The Winston-Salem community college is the only North Carolina institution — and one of just 11 nationally — to receive this U.S. Department of Labor grant.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for Forsyth Tech and our partner community colleges to build a clearer education-workforce development system, ultimately making North Carolina more prosperous,” Forsyth Tech President Janet Spriggs said in a news release put out by the college.

Forsyth Tech will work with seven other area community colleges in a 12-county region to produce more and better-trained workers for the advanced manufacturing sector.

The consortium plans to revise existing classes and training programs and start new ones in several advanced manufacturing areas, including machining, mechatronics, welding and industrial maintenance. Some new programs could start as early as this fall, while some others are slated to launch in 2022.

The consortium will work with manufacturing companies in the area to develop a new badge program. Students will be able to earn badges — a relatively new type of educational credential — for the knowledge and skills they have learned, either through community college courses or perhaps from prior jobs and classes.

These badges will tell potential employers the abilities that applicants will bring to a job. Because local companies are helping to develop this new badge system, employers will be able to find workers with the skills they're looking for.

"We seek to change ... the way that credentials are earned by the learners and honored with employers,” said John Carstens, Forsyth Tech's dean of engineering technologies.

The other seven schools in the new consortium are Alamance, Davidson-Davie, Guilford, Montgomery, Randolph, Rockingham and Surry community colleges.

The money is coming from Forsyth Tech from the Labor Department's Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grant. The Labor Department announced earlier this month that it had awarded $40 million in grants to help 11 community colleges across the nation meet market demands for skilled workers.

Contact John Newsom at (336) 373-7312 and follow @JohnNewsomNR on Twitter.​


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