DCCCD gets $12M grant for nations' first healthcare apprenticeship program

The U.S. Labor Department is announcing $183 million in grants to community colleges nationwide for apprenticeship programs.

About $12 million is going to the Dallas County Community College District. U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta was in Dallas on Tuesday for the announcement.

The dollars to DCCCD will help launch a health care apprentice program, a first of its kind apprenticeship in the nation.

Acosta walked through what Dallas community college students work through: the health care training program.

“I just had the opportunist to meet some of the students here. They were working in radiology and cardiology, and they were outstanding,” he said. “One takeaway was 100 percent passage on the boards for this particular class.”

The first-of-its-kind-in-the-nation-health care apprenticeship program is pairing healthcare students with healthcare professionals.

“It’s important because you want to be able to provide safe care and know what you’re doing when you’re taking care of a patient because it’s scary when you don't know what you’re doing,” said Kimberly Guerrero, a DCCCD nursing student. “And it’s amazing when an individual helps you and takes their time to help you out and teach you.”

The grant will train 7,500 apprentices in 50 healthcare occupations. More than ten percent will be transitioning service members, military spouses and veterans.

“This district has been known for a long time for its innovation, creativity and wonderful work it does to benefit all the students of this community,” said Dr. Walter Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges. “And this project is no exception.”

More than 70 percent of DCCCD students work while in school.

“As we looked at perhaps one of the greatest impacts that we could have is getting more adults into this employment pipeline, an apprenticeship is a perfect way because it creates clarity around the next steps and the pathway from where you are today to a better paying job and a better life,” said DCCCD Chancellor Dr. Joe May.

Dallas hospital systems and the American Association of Nurses are coming alongside with the college district.

Secretary Acosta calls it the perfect prescription for education.

“With businesses and community colleges coming together to offer young Americans and Americans that are looking to change their skill set in-demand jobs, thank you for what you're doing,” he said.

Dr. May says this is just the beginning. The district has set a goal of 50,000 apprenticeships by 2030, playing a critical role in investing in the health care community.