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Obama pushes Chicago-style community college/employer partnerships

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WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union speech, called for community colleges and businesses to form partnerships to train students with skills employers in their area explicitly need--programs that community colleges in Chicago have in place.

"Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers - places that teach people skills that local businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing," Obama said.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel--who talked about Chicago's experience in a speech before the U.S. Conference of Mayors here last week--and Obama's former chief of staff--said in a statement, "the President gave a great speech tonight. As he outlined his vision for the country, I am pleased that he mentioned strengthening our nation's community colleges as a way of providing our young people a ladder to the middle class. Chicago is leading the way in that effort with our College to Careers Program, linking our community colleges with partners in industry to provide students the skills they need to compete.

Chancellor Cheryl Hyman of City Colleges of Chicago said in a statement, "President Obama tonight called for a national effort to equip Americans with the right job skills and make college more affordable. Community colleges hold a large part of the answer to both challenges.

"Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and City Colleges of Chicago have launched the College to Careers initiative to partner with high-growth industries to align curriculum with market demand. This will ensure we address our nation and region's enduring skills gap and empower students to compete and win the global jobs of today and tomorrow.

"City Colleges of Chicago similarly plays a critical role in reducing the student debt crisis, removing cost as barrier to job training and college degrees. A City Colleges of Chicago student can save up to $40,000 versus comparable coursework elsewhere.

"It is incumbent on community colleges to ensure that students have access to quality programs that prepare them for success, and provide a truly worthwhile return on students' investment in time and resources.

"City Colleges of Chicago remains committed to delivering both access and success through the Reinvention of our entire system so that Chicagoans receive academic credentials of true economic value that help drive our city's economy."
The City Colleges of Chicago includes seven colleges: Richard J. Daley College, Kennedy-King College, Malcolm X College, Olive-Harvey College, Harry S Truman College, Harold Washington College and Wilbur Wright College. The system also oversees the Washburne Culinary Institute, the French Pastry School, two restaurants, five Child Development Centers, the Center for Distance Learning, the Workforce Institute, the public broadcast station WYCC-TV Channel 20 and radio station WKKC-FM 89.3. For more information about City Colleges of Chicago, call: (773) COLLEGE or visit

About City Colleges of Chicago

The City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) is the largest community college system in Illinois and one of the largest in the nation, with 5,800 faculty and staff serving 120,000 students annually at seven colleges and seven satellite sites city-wide. The City Colleges of Chicago is in the midst of a Reinvention, a collaborative effort to review and revise CCC programs and practices to ensure students leave CCC career-ready and prepared to pursue their life's goals.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 24, 2012 10:08 PM.

Obama State of the Union address: Transcript was the previous entry in this blog.

Republican National Committee catches Obama repeating himself is the next entry in this blog.

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