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North Georgia Technical awarded $2.5M grant
Labor department funds will aid workforce development
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North Georgia Technical College in Clarkesville was the only school in the state to be awarded a grant of $2.5 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to aid workforce development.

The school was awarded along with 31 others across the country and will receive the money over the next three years.

The grant, presented in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education, will help the college expand online and distance learning, job placement and financial aid, and support students in developmental education programs.

"This is probably one of the most impactful programs we plan to implement here. To say we are excited is a serious understatement," Steve Dougherty, president of the college said in a news release.

"Just winning the competition for this grant is pretty cool stuff, and the things we are going to be able to do with it will move us right out front in the workforce training."

The initiative is all about leading to real jobs, according to Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.

"These federal grants will enable community colleges, employers and other partners to prepare job candidates, through innovative programs, for new careers in high-wage, high-skills fields, including advanced manufacturing, transportation, health care and STEM occupations," she said.

North Georgia Technical's proposal focused on developing those career pathways, particularly in the health care field.

The grant application included plans to dole out money for acquiring and installing seven smart dummies for medical training, fund additional learning labs and math manipulatives, and expand tutoring labs on campus for math and English.

Currently, health care program enrollment is limited because of limited clinical sites. Using smart dummies will allow the school to expand that capacity.

The project will address shortages by focusing on industry-recognized credentials that may be earned in two years or less, including a career pathway leading to an ADN-registered nursing program, according to information from the Department of Labor.

The money is part of a $2 billion four-year investment to increase opportunities for the unemployed, when combined with President Barack Obama's American Jobs Act.

Lakeview High School student Michelle Dubin contributed to this report.