NCTC lands grant to expand IT programs

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Labor Dept. awards college $4.66 million for training in tech jobs

North Central Texas College will receive more than $4.66 million over the next four years as part of a multistate consortium grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to expand demand-driven skills training.

The grant will help expand information technology training programs, including a new cybersecurity program and multiple certificates such as Web design, Cisco and databases.

“The real big umbrella for this was the cybersecurity program,” said Brent Wallace, NCTC vice president of instruction. “There’s a lot of directions a student can go, and career paths are pretty endless right now.”

With the grant, the college will be able to get technology and staff to support these programs, as well, and create additional partnerships with local industry partners to tailor the curriculum of new programs into what employers need, Wallace said.

NCTC applied for the grant with three community colleges in Minnesota as part of the Rural Information Technology Alliance Consortium, which will focus on meeting rural employment needs in the community. Combined, the four schools will receive $18.3 million.

NCTC already has a head start in the consortium because many of the certificate programs already exist, said Donna Uptergrove, director of grants for the school.

“They’re looking to us to continue what we’re doing to start enhancing those programs we already have,” Uptergrove said. “It kind of gives us a jump start, which is important with grants, so that we can start quickly and enhance over the four-year period.”

Officials with the college expect the program to help the local economy, be available to anyone interested and provide education and career coaching from the time a person is first interested in a program to helping place the person in a job once the program is completed.

“It’s actually appropriate for any of our students, former military or anyone trying to increase their skills to get into the competitive IT career network,” Uptergrove said.

The funding was confirmed Sept. 18 when U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez announced $474.5 million in grants to community colleges. The grant term begins Oct. 1.

Debbie Sharp, vice president of institutional advancement, said the new initiatives will begin rolling out in the spring semester, after NCTC spends the fall working on developing the coursework and curriculum for new programs, and improving the existing information technology offerings.

“I see it as a great workforce economic benefit for our region,” she said. “From NCTC’s perspective, we’re really excited about this.”

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.


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