CCBC to administer federal job training program
Wednesday, 07 November 2012 12:19

$11.8 million grant to fund ACE program

by Nicole Rodman

    On Oct. 25, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced a new federally-funded multi-state job training initiative.
    The program, called ACE (Accelerating Connections to Employment) will train low-skill job seekers, including those with limited fluency in English and low skills in reading, writing and math.
    As Kamenetz announced late last month, the ACE program will be funded in Baltimore County with a $11.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovation Fund.

In addition to Baltimore County, the program will also be administered in nine Maryland counties and Baltimore City, as well as in Texas, Connecticut and Georgia.
    During his announcement of the new grant-funded program, Kamenetz noted that “with this grant, Baltimore County takes a leadership role in working with business, foundation and training experts as they implement new ideas for America’s workforce system.”
    He added, “Most important, the program has the potential to change lives as parents, adults and youth who need a little extra support learn new skills that will lead to jobs.”
    In Baltimore County, the ACE program will be run by the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC).
    According to CCBC spokesperson Jacqueline Lucy, the program will likely be similiar to the school’s MI-BEST program.
    First offered at CCBC’s Dundalk campus earlier this year (and profiled in an article in the July 2 Eagle), MI-BEST stands for Maryland Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training.
    The program, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and the Maryland Workforce Corporation, gave participants the chance to earn a high school diploma while, at the same time, training for a new career.
    While funding for the previous incarnation of MI-BEST has now ended, the success of the program means that CCBC will likely design the new ACE program based on the MI-BEST model.
    In fact, Lucy noted, the program was so successful that other states receiving grant money from the U.S. Department of Labor plan to model their career training programs after MI-BEST at CCBC.
    According to a press release issued by the county on Oct. 25, the program will feature classes with two teachers each, one basic education teacher and one content specialist.
    The program will offer education in basic skills, occupational skills and job readiness.
    Specific career training offered will be determined based on economic conditions and local demand.
    Students will also be placed in internships and receive career placement assistance as part of the program.
    While funding for the program is now in place, CCBC is now in what Lucy called “a holding stage,” awaiting final approval from Baltimore County before beginning.
    According to Edward Fangman, chief of workforce development with the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development, the grant was awarded by the Department of Labor as an “evaluation grant.”
    Under the terms of the grant, while administering the program, the county must evaluate whether it is actually effective in helping low-skill job seekers retain jobs and make living wages.
    In order to examine the results of the program, the county has hired a nationally-known evaluation firm to collect data and process the results.
    According to Fangman, evaluators will begin by choosing twice as many people as spots for the ACE program and then randomly determining who gets into the program.
    Those not accepted into the ACE program will be encouraged to enroll in other job-training programs.
    Once training is complete, both sets of students will be tracked to determine if the ACE participants did better than those enrolled in more traditional job training courses.
    Fangman was quick to note that all information is kept strictly confidential.
    According to Lucy, CCBC’s ACE program will likely be opened to potential students next spring or summer.
    For his part, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin was optimistic about the impact that the grant will have on Baltimore County and the state.
    In a statement last month he noted, “Rebuilding our nation’s economy starts on the community level and this almost $12 million Department of Labor grant will significantly expand and improve job training for thousands of people.”
    He added, “By improving language and math skills for those with limited proficiency, this program will translate into jobs and help boost our state’s future economic growth.”