MARTINEZ (KCBS) – A group of community colleges in the East Bay has been awarded a nearly $15 million federal grant to train unemployed workers for jobs in high tech manufacturing and engineering.

The U.S. Department of Labor issued the $14.9 million grant to a consortium of local community colleges led by the Contra Costa Community College District.

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KCBS’ Jeffrey Schaub Reports:

“The regional community colleges are an amazing and immense vast resource of education and training,” said Randy Tillery, Dean of Economic and Workforce Development for the Contra Costa Community College District.

Tillery said there are opportunities out there for the unemployed.

“One of the myths of the regional economy is that there are no jobs,” he said. “The fact is there are lots and lots of jobs that employers can’t fill, what we call middle skill jobs. Those are the jobs that require one or two years of college, but don’t require a four-year degree. Manufacturers and health care and other industries continuously tell us that they can’t find qualified people for these jobs.”

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The “Design it – Build it – Ship it” program also includes Solano, Peralta, Chabot/Las Positas and Ohlone community college districts. It will award certificates for an array of positions – machine maintenance, biotech semiconductor design and engineering among them.

Congressman George Miller, who played an integral role in helping to secure the funding, said the industries are evolving in California.

“Manufacturing in California has a much heavier reliance on technology and skills related to technology,” Miller said.

The funding comes from a competitive $2 billion grant program Miller helped pass in 2010 to bolster community colleges across the country and support job training and workforce development opportunities.

Over four years, the grant is expected to allow for more than 2,000 East Bay residents to get the proper training and learn new and marketable skills.

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