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SIUE gets $10 million to lead biotech jobs consortium

The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded a grant worth $9,956,011 to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative.

The funding is co-administered by the Department of Labor and Department of Education.
Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the winners of $450 million in job-driven training grants to nearly 270 colleges across the country.

The grants will provide institutions of higher education with funds to partner with employers to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career-training programs that will help job seekers get the skills they need for in-demand jobs in industries like information technology, health care, energy and advanced manufacturing.

SIUE is working through the Building Illinois’ Bioeconomy consortium — BIB for short — that is comprised of five higher education institutions in Illinois. The others are Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg and Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg.

While community colleges have historically led TAACCCT consortia, BIB partners are leaning on SIUE to help facilitate and strengthen the employability of eligible workers and other students through the consortium’s combined network of career pathways.

“SIUE is proud to be the lead partner in building a regional coalition of higher education institutions to train a skilled workforce in biotechnology,” said Julie Furst-Bowe, SIUE chancellor. “Our consortium has teamed to establish transformative career pathways that prepare students for jobs in the fields of bioprocessing and water management.

“Students will benefit from specialized training at the NCERC at SIUE and at the Environmental Resources Training Center, with innovative online learning tools, unparalleled hands-on learning opportunities, and access to the Centers’ research and industry expertise.This announcement further demonstrates SIUE’s vision of innovative and interdisciplinary programs that empower individuals to achieve their full potential,” the chancellor’s statement said.

The NCERC — formerly known as the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center — is a not-for-profit center that conducts research and findings for industrial and institutional clients. Its mission is to facilitate the commercialization of new technologies for producing fuel ethanol more effectively.

“The grant will also create the first ever bioprocess technician certificate program in the nation that we anticipate will set the standard for training skilled workers to manage bioprocessing plant operations, which are taking an ever increasing importance in the nation’s economy,” said Parviz Ansari, SIUE provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

The BIB intends to connect veterans, unemployed persons, underserved minorities and rural workers with in-demand careers that directly contribute to Illinois’ and the nation’s economic and environmental sustainability.

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