Bidens Visit ROC: Discuss Education & A Skilled Workforce

Jan 29, 2014

United States Vice President Joe Biden addressing the crowd at MCC's Applied Technologies Center
Credit Jim Day / WXXI News

(Updated 1/30/14 12:30 p.m. with video of Joe Biden's remarks)  

There are a lot skilled manufacturing jobs available. But not enough trained workers, according to Vice President Joe Biden.

"Education by college is not the only path."

Vice President Joe Biden, and his wife Jill, visited Monroe Community College on Wednesday with education and growing a high tech workforce on his mind. Biden wants to train more workers to meet employer needs.

"Everything from high tech manufacturing to building a 21st century infrastructure to keeping and attracting more businesses in America … to IT. All of these things are going to be the jobs of the 20th century with a totally different tilt to them."

Biden would put a program in place at community colleges to link students with high tech companies. The President raised the issue in his State of the Union Address.

"Actually, I think it's long overdue,” says Richard Nicoles, a first-year student in MCC's Heating and Ventilation program. "I got into MCC myself because I needed some skills and ... the emphasis on building real-time, real-world skills fast to put people into the workforce for jobs … that really works for me."

Nicoles was recently laid off from a heating and supply company.  He says he's worked a lot of service jobs. Nicoles values vocational training, and says he hopes to take advantage of the college's partnership with RochesterWorks! to find his next job.

Biden is also asking businesses to provide a certain percentage of jobs to the long-term unemployed.

"By 2020, it’s estimated there will be a need for additional 870,000 skilled workers for high tech manufacturing."

The Vice President says jobs have changed from the days when Kodak, Xerox and Bausch and Lomb were major employers in Rochester. Today, he's pushing for educational programs that would train students for jobs in the high tech manufacturing industry.

"So that their parents can see this is not the old Kodak job. This is a job that has some legs to it. This is a job of the future, a career path that is worth pursuing. That’s one of the things we push against."

Dr. Jill Biden addressing audience at MCC's Technology Center
Credit Jim Day / WXXI News

Biden also says he also wants to reinvent high school education to include trades programs to help create a more skilled workforce. His wife, Jill, a professor in Northern Virginia, says community colleges are critical to this end and the country's future. She praised MCC for partnering students up with industry leaders saying this type of model should be replicated around the country.

"Helping people get good paying jobs so that they can support their families. Giving them skills that they need to grow in careers that they love, giving experienced workers a renewed sense of hope and confidence.”

MCC President Ann Kress says she was thrilled the Bidens had the opportunity to see what the college has to offer its students.

“We’d love for the White House to help facilitate more effective business partnerships to build the workforce of tomorrow.”

The couple also toured a precision machine shop at the MCC technology center.

The full video of Biden's speech can be seen below: