BSC-led college consortium lands $14.6 million grant

The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded a job training grant totaling $14.6 million to Bismarck State College, Fort Berthold Community College, Sitting Bull College, Turtle Mountain Community College and Williston State College. The five colleges have formed a consortium, led by BSC, to deliver training and support for participants pursing employment in many high-paying, high-skill jobs available in western North Dakota.

The consortium programs will support workers impacted by the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, a Department of Labor program that provides benefits to workers who have lost jobs or earn less due to the impacts of foreign trade. The programs also are available to others interested in obtaining training in certain occupations needed to support the energy industry.

The grant doesn’t provide tuition assistance, but will help each college provide flexible and high quality, accelerated training programs with stackable credentials, which will enable participants to enter the workforce quickly. The stackable credentials offer a path for people to advance in their careers – providing steps toward additional accreditation or degrees.

The consortium, titled Training for Regional Energy in North Dakota (TREND), will expand current energy-related programs, enhance career navigation services and create some new training programs. TREND will focus on energy-related occupations, welding, CDL and building and construction trades.

“This grant means that BSC and the other colleges included can do even more with our programs and the initiatives needed to sustain energy development in North Dakota,” said Kari Knudson, vice president, BSC National Energy Center of Excellence.

Knudson also said, “By working together, the consortium colleges can share and leverage our pooled resources. That will allow us to better supply the urgent workforce needs in the state.”

An array of partners support the consortium grant, including energy companies, state and tribal agencies and other key employers and energy-related associations.

U.S. Senators Kent Conrad and John Hoeven, and U.S. Rep. Rick Berg announced the grant award last week.

“North Dakota workers are among the best in the country, but it is important that all American workers keep pace with changing job skill needs in a changing world,” the delegation said in a joint statement. “These grants will provide valuable training that will strengthen our work force.”

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