(AUSTIN) — Texas Comptroller Susan Combs says the state must do more to better serve students in getting the education they need to meet future work force challenges and allow the continued prosperity of our economically diverse state. Today, Combs introduced the details of the Every Chance Funds, a $25 million initiative providing grants and scholarships over the biennium for career and technical education.
“We must work harder to better serve our state and young people in terms of future financial success, and this money serves as an investment that will reap social and economic dividends for years to come,” Combs said. “With this initiative, we’re focusing on job training and two-year degrees in high-demand technical fields. Using associate degrees and certificate programs, we know opportunities exist for people with these skills.”
Every Chance Funds encompass three categories of money available. A $10 million Job Building Fund will help finance equipment purchases for new career and technical education programs started throughout the state that support high-growth industries. The Job Building Fund will require matching local funds and be awarded on a competitive basis.
“We hope these grants will attract and develop business in Texas communities,” Combs said.
“We are looking closely at new, emerging industries for high-demand occupations and coordinating programs leading to degrees or postsecondary certificates.”
Another $10 million fund, the Launchpad Fund, will support and expand existing nonprofit programs with a proven track record of good performance. The money from this fund will be allocated to develop, support or expand programs of nonprofit organizations that prepare low-income students for careers in high-demand occupations. These innovative and successful organizations also assist students in applying and enrolling in a public community college or technical school.
Finally, the $5 million Career and Technical Scholarship Fund allocates money for approved training programs for high-demand occupations. As part of the overall Every Chance Funds program, the Comptroller created a list of approved training programs for high-demand occupations to fulfill future work force needs in Texas. Students who apply for these scholarships must seek a certificate or associate’s degree in one of these high-demand occupations. Funds for scholarships covering tuition and fees will be granted directly to community and technical colleges to distribute to students with financial need.
The new list of high-demand degree areas include Computer, Information Sciences & Support Services; Engineering Technologies; Science Technologies; Construction Trades; Mechanical & Repair Technologies; Precision Production; and Health Professions & Related Clinical Sciences.
In December, Combs released Texas Works, a report detailing the widening gap between the skills required in today’s job market and the number of graduates trained with those skills coming out of our education system. The report detailed how many Texas businesses have a hard time finding skilled technical workers, and numerous employers said dwindling enrollment in vocational training programs negatively affects their businesses.
One of the recommendations within the Texas Works report called for the state to create a $25 million education fund to support career technical education, and the 81st Legislature established this fund. Grant applications will be available early next month, and the Comptroller looks forward to awarding several grants by the end of this year.
For more information about the funds, visit http://www.everychanceeverytexan.org/funds. The Texas Works report is available on the Comptroller’s Web site at www.window.state.tx.us/specialrpt/workforce.