KEWANEE, Ill. — Black Hawk College is getting $1 million in federal funding to improve trade education.
The college's main campus is in Moline, but the money is going towards the school's Welding and Skilled Trades Center in Kewanee.
"The money will help fund equipment, curriculum development, partnerships - a little bit of everything," Black Hawk College President Tim Wynes said.
Former Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos helped coordinate the funding.
Wynes said the money will improve training in CNC, welding, fabrication and other trade skills. It will also give more opportunities for students to intern under businesses like John Deere and Great Dane.
He added that staying up-to-date is important, as trade fields have changed dramatically, even during the pandemic.
"It'll make it possible for us to be as up-to-date as possible and working with manufacturers, creating the spaces on-campus to help students have what's essentially the best training possible to go into the workforce," Wynes said.
He added that the funding comes at a time when students are interested in more diverse options.
"Not every student wants to spend four years in college - not every student wants to get a B.A. in a liberal arts degree," Wynes said. "Some students are more comfortable mastering a skill. They're learners in their own right, they just have an interest in doing something different."
He hopes the funding will help support their two-year programs and certification options for trade subjects.
Wynes also emphasized how the college's improvements in trade education matches the job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, trade jobs doubled over the past 10 years.
"Part of our mission is to make sure that we're helping provide to employers the kind of employees that can not only do the job today, but tomorrow are lifelong learners," Wynes said.
In October 2022, Black Hawk also launched its IGNITE program at the Rock Island campus, offering basic manufacturing courses.