ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden visited Monroe Community College’s Applied Technologies Center today to emphasize high-performing job-training programs like MCC’s that create educational opportunities leading to well-paying jobs.
The visit follows on the heels of President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address in which he committed to helping community colleges build industry partnerships so that, as workforce and skills needs change, community colleges can quickly adapt and increase the employability of graduates.
Speaking before an audience of approximately 500 MCC students, faculty and community leaders, Vice President Biden said, “By 2020, it’s estimated there will be a need for 877,000 skilled workers for high tech manufacturing. … What you’re doing here [at MCC] is being copied. When people see opportunity, they seize it,” he said.
“We’re talking about training people for long-term careers for the new manufacturing for the 21st century,” the vice president said. “MCC stepped in with their summer program (Summer Optics Sizzler Camp) to show parents and kids where the jobs are. This is not your old Kodak job.”
“Monroe is doing exactly what we need to replicate across the country,” said Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden, who also teaches English at Northern Virginia Community College (Annandale, Va.). “First ask the businesses exactly what they need, then enroll students in those programs.”
“What happens in community colleges is extraordinary,” Dr. Biden said. “These schools are absolutely critical to America’s future.”
“At MCC, we know that economic opportunity begins with access to high quality education,” said MCC President Anne Kress. “More and more students come to MCC seeking skills and training that will connect them directly and immediately to employment. We are honored that Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden came to MCC to highlight the critical role community colleges play in preparing job seekers for high-demand careers.”
Dr. Biden introduced Optimax Systems, Inc. founder and President Mike Mandina ’75, an MCC alumnus who launched a regional skills alliance with other manufacturers in 1996 to address a regional skills gap, especially in the optics industry. “As a group, we decided to stop talking about the skills gap and start doing something,” said Mandina. “In our region, we are truly blessed to have community college presidents from Monroe, Finger Lakes and Genesee (community colleges) who are aligning programs and skills to help students get a living-wage job. I don’t believe the Administration could have picked a better place at a better time than this exact moment,” he said before introducing Vice President Biden.
MCC has launched more than 90 courses and programs in the past year in collaboration with industry partners. “Because of MCC’s outstanding industry partnerships and our use of real-time labor market data to guide program development, MCC is helping to close the region’s skills gap, increase opportunity for our students, and meet the needs of local employers,” Kress said.
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle and many other elected officials and community leaders were present at the event. Vice President Biden also credited U.S. Congresswoman Louis Slaughter for “fighting hard” to include New York’s community colleges in federal funding opportunities and Kress for “putting a million dollars of that funding to good use.” His reference was in regards to a $14.6 million U.S. Department of Labor grant awarded to a consortium of SUNY community colleges in September 2012 to provide training within the advanced manufacturing industry. MCC leads the consortium.
“The story of the history of this country has been built upon the backs of the middle class,” said Vice President Biden. “We can come back. We want to be in a position where moms and dads can look at their kids over the next several years and tell them, ‘It’s going to be okay.’ ”
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