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Congressman Barrow tours Augusta Tech, makes important announcements

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Oct. 10, 2011

AUGUSTA -- There’s a generation of future workers being raised right here at Augusta Tech.

“America has the best vocational training system in the world, and Georgia has among the best vocational and technical schools in the country,” said Democratic Congressman John Barrow.

He was there to observe, but he was also there to make some announcements.

“Augusta Tech has successfully competed for a grant that’s going to total $1.25 million -- one and quarter million dollars -- in quarter of a million dollars installments over the next five years,” he explained.

Augusta Tech President Terry Elam says it’s one of the two grants that will help the school in these trying times. The first will help with retention of male students and help build a new classroom. The second will also help retain students.

“Both grants are designed to help us keep male student in particular but all students on our campus for longer periods, so they can graduate and get a job,” Elam said.

But Barrow was also there to help put people back to work. He’s introduced a bill that will make it easier for the unemployed to go to a technical school and then -- hopefully -- back to work.

“The bill that I’ve introduced would actually provide training subsidies for folks who are going to technical schools, so they can get the job training and experience to meet the demands of the new jobs coming in when the recession is over,” Barrow said.

“It’s not a lot of money. It’s $2,000 , but to someone who is unemployed, that stipend could make a big difference in whether they can go to school, have childcare, and pay for those things that are necessary to make life just a little bit easier,” Elam said.

He says the most important thing a community can invest in is a workforce. That’s why he welcomes the grants and legislation.

Elam estimates that about 20 percent of his students were laid off before they enrolled.

Read Rep. Barrow's Bill (H.R. 2851)

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