West Los Angeles College (WLAC) will lead efforts on a federal grant that will connect thousands of Californians to the workforce and help close the skills gap.

WLAC was awarded a $12 million grant – the single largest grant in the college’s history – from the U.S. Department of Labor to develop and oversee apprenticeship programs across the country for as many as 5,000 students. The program is expected to provide several different student-focused “career on-ramps” for jobs, education, internships and apprenticeship opportunities. It is set to begin in fall 2019.

“The Los Angeles Community College District, which includes WLAC, has a strong commitment to educating the workforce of tomorrow and to providing equal opportunities for all who want to purse their dreams of higher education and well-paying jobs. This grant positions our community colleges to continue to be responsive to employer needs and help build strong regional economies,” Chancellor Francisco C. Rodriguez, Ph.D., said.

WLAC will be the lead college on the grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and will work with five other colleges, the South Bay Workforce Investment Board, and a number of private-sector employers and professional organizations. The other colleges are College of the Canyons, El Camino College, Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada, Columbia College in South Carolina and Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York.

The grant is part of a larger, $183 million effort by the U.S. Department of Labor to create as many as 85,000 internships and on-the-job training opportunities via apprenticeships.