TCC Gets Record Grant


Wednesday, March 26th 2008, 1:05 pm
By: News On 6


Tulsa Community College is getting some help from the government to get more people into the IT business.   

The school plans to use a $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to train 360 people in information technology.  

School officials say they'll design information technology education, upgrade the skills of current IT workers, educate new people and recruit younger people into the industry.   

The grant is the largest TCC has ever received.

---

TCC news release:

Tulsa Community College has received a $1.74 million national grant from the U.S. Department of Labor that is expected to address the current shortages of skilled Information Technology workers and anticipated baby boomer retirements of IT personnel negatively impacting the local and regional economy.  The grant will provide free tuition, customized training, the creation of a regional IT skills center, and youth education. 

TCC President & CEO Tom McKeon announced today that TCC is one of two sites in the state to receive grants through President Bush's Community-Based Job Training Grants Initiative.  The grant was written by TCC with the assistance of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.   Three local employers contributed to research for the grant citing significant IT personnel needs unmet by Tulsa's current employee pool.  Bank of Oklahoma, EDS and Cherokee Nation Enterprises have pointed to increased regulatory and security requirements that have placed increased demand for IT services on U.S. businesses. 

"The number of qualified IT personnel in the Tulsa area and across the nation has dropped considerably in the past several years due to a downturn in the technology sector.  However, the job demand is as strong or stronger than it has been in the past and this grant will allow TCC and Tulsa businesses to train new IT workers and create jobs for the future," said McKeon.

In fall 2000, TCC had more than 4,500 enrollments in IT courses.  By fall 2007, that number had dropped to 2,900 enrollments, McKeon said.

"The reality is that Tulsa businesses are recruiting IT professionals away from each other and the size of the pool of qualified personnel is not increasing.  This grant will go a long way toward helping employers train new professionals who can serve our growing IT business needs," said Don Parker, chief technology officer and executive vice president for Bank of Oklahoma, a grant participant. 

EDS, a global technology services company with local offices, was also instrumental in developing the grant.

"Many of the individuals who know complex software programs that serve our industry are reaching retirement age.  It is essential that we maintain and develop skilled professionals who can fill their shoes.  This is really a critical issue for EDS as our business in Tulsa and throughout the world grows," said Wes Mitchell, director Central Hub Data Center, EDS. 

"This is great news for the entire Tulsa metro area. We have seen an increasing demand for IT professionals among employers both large and small in Tulsa," said Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor. "This grant will help fund training to provide qualified workers for these jobs. The funding is not only a great asset to employers, it will also help many Tulsans secure good-paying jobs and careers.  Tulsa Community College is very responsive to the needs of this community, as seen with the Tulsa Achieves program, and this grant will enable them to do even more to serve both their students and the local employers who seek to hire them."

The three-year grant will allow TCC to: provide tuition for new students and additional education for existing IT employees, create curriculum for high-demand IT programs, create a regional IT Skills Center, conduct summer academies for IT instructors and advisors, conduct regional Information Technology Summits, conduct jobs fairs, and provide contract training for 10-20 companies for incumbent worker training.

 "The Tulsa Metro Chamber has been concerned about the current deficit of IT workers and the resulting impact on our ability to attract new companies and industry to Tulsa.  We are fortunate TCC is the kind college capable and willing to identify and solve local employer needs," said Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Metro Chamber.

In addition to addressing current employer needs, the grant calls for addressing IT workforce solutions by reaching K-12 disadvantaged youth.

Grant partners include: The City of Tulsa; Workforce Tulsa, the local WIB; Oklahoma State Youth Council; Governor's Council for Workforce and Economic Development; Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education; Oklahoma State University-Stillwater and Okmulgee; Tulsa Technology Center; and the Tulsa Public School District. 

For more information on how to benefit from the grant, Tulsans should contact the TCC Workforce Development Programs office at 595-7976.

Find more stories on NewsOn6.com's Local News page.