CCV

The Community College of Vermont and University of Vermont are offering free courses as part of the Upskill Vermont Scholarship Program.

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MONTPELIER — A new scholarship program created with American Rescue Plan Act funds is designed for those who want to gain new skills or try a new career, as well as local employers in need of more staff.

“As the world changes, and Vermont businesses change and scramble to keep up, education is such a core and foundational piece of helping people be prepared and helping businesses thrive in Vermont,” Joyce Judy, president of Community College of Vermont, said Tuesday at the governor’s weekly news conference.

The Upskill Vermont Scholarship Program begins in the fall and allows residents to take as many as two courses at CCV and University of Vermont for free. Applications can be found at upskillvermont.org.

The scholarship program includes courses related to the digital economy, health care, and leadership management and training. Also offered are free workshops and career resources.

Participants will be directly connected with employers, Gov. Phil Scott said. It’s not known just how many scholarships will be given out.

The Legislature approved $4 million from APRA funds for the program, Scott said.

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“I want to thank them for this work on this as well,” he said. “As we recover from the pandemic, it’s so important that we take advantage of all the funding opportunities that we’ve been handed, to make transformative investments that will help us rebuild back stronger than before.”

For the effort, Judy said CCV and UVM are collaborating with businesses such as Whetstone Station Restaurant and Brewery in Brattleboro to develop “a full continuum.”

“This is a time that makes higher education truly affordable in Vermont,” Judy said. “Step up now because this money won’t be here, I can assure you, in the future.”

For each course at CCV, Judy usually advises people to budget about $1,000.

Scott said his administration has focused on turning the tide of workforce and demographic trends in Vermont, as the population gets older and fewer workers are entering the workforce than leaving it. He described the problem being amplified by the pandemic.

Patricia Prelock, chief academic officer at UVM, said she knows how critical it is to get people working in fields currently understaffed. Courses offered by UVM and CCV in the program will meet the needs of more people than one school could on at its own, she said.