By Andrew McGall
Bay Area News Group Assistant Regional Editor
A group of East Bay community colleges has won a nearly $15 million federal grant to train unemployed workers for jobs in advanced manufacturing, logistics and engineering.
The grant announced Wednesday involves an array of schools, businesses and agencies in Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties collaborating in a "Design it-Build it-Ship it" program. It will award credentials aimed at helping unemployed and underemployed adults train for "middle skill" jobs that regional employers find difficult to fill.
The program awards certificates for machine maintenance mechanic, biopharmaceutical technician, process technician, welding, semiconductor design and fabrication, medical device manufacturing, warehousing, transportation logistics, supply chain systems and engineering technician.
It is expected to help more than 2,000 East Bay residents learn new, marketable skills, according to a news release from U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, who helped write the law enabling the grants.
"Middle-class people who are looking for jobs can develop a new career path by taking advantage of this innovative education and job training service," Miller said in the release.
Foreign competition was one spur for the program, said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland.
"This funding will provide area community colleges (with) critical funding to help retrain individuals who lost their jobs to foreign trade in emerging manufacturing and technology fields," she said in a news release.
The grant consortium includes the Contra Costa, Solano, Peralta, Chabot/Las Positas and Ohlone community college districts, five regional workforce boards, UC Berkeley, Cal State East Bay, the Bay Area Manufacturing Renaissance Council, Career Ladders Project, the Ports of Oakland and Richmond. The grant application was supported by more than 20 major regional employers.