COTO Receives $1.8 Million Grant to Expand Job Training Programs

Malvern, AR – College of the Ouachitas recently received more than $1.8 million to expand education and career training programs for the high-skill fields of advanced manufacturing and transportation.  The announcement was made on Thursday by U.S. Senator Mark Pryor and the funding comes from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCT) Grant Program, which was authorized by the stimulus bill.

Mr. Ruben Keisler, COTO Dean of Career and Technical Education, stated, “I am grateful that the College will receive these funds from the Department of Labor allowing us to train our area workforce in advanced areas of manufacturing and distribution to fit our current and future needs of industry.”

“College of the Ouachitas is very appreciative of this funding from the U.S. Department of Labor that will address the workforce needs in both Advanced Manufacturing and Transportation.  As a result of this funding, the College will be developing two new programs, Industrial and Nano Robotics, as well as Machining and Fabrication,” remarked Dr. Stephen Schoonmaker, President of College of the Ouachitas.  “These programs will produce Machinists, Electro-Mechanical Technicians, among others – all of which have been identified by the Arkansas Economic Developers as an immediate need in the state.”

Dr. Schoonmaker continued, “In addition, the grant can enable the College to build and equip a mobile truck driving simulation lab, thus producing a much-needed truck driving workforce that is also experiencing a shortage, according to the Arkansas Economic Developers.  These advancements are vital to the economic development of our local communities and region.”

The Southwest Arkansas Community College Consortium will receive a total of $8,419,390 to help address gaps in services currently provided to businesses, create systems to ensure quick responses to business needs, and establish new regional collaborations.  The schools receiving funding are as follows:

College of the Ouachitas, Malvern: $1,801,912
Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas, DeQueen: $450,000
National Park Community College, Hot Springs: $1,003,800
Rich Mountain Community College, Mena: $300,000
South Arkansas Community College, El Dorado: $3,904,256
Southern Arkansas University Tech, Camden: $417,800
University of Arkansas Community College at Hope: $541,622

“If we want to stay competitive in today’s global economy, we need to equip our students with the needed skills, degrees, and training,” Pryor said.  “Thanks to this funding, our community colleges now have the resources they need to help their students obtain high-wage, high-skill jobs in our nation’s fastest-growing industries. This is a win-win for Arkansas students and businesses.”