President Obama Praises Job Training Program in Second Visit to Lorain County Community College
President Barack Obama’s second stop at Lorain County Community College in the last two years was both an educational and inspirational experience.
“As an institution of higher learning, we are in the education business,” said LCCC President Dr. Roy A. Church during the Wednesday, April 18 event. “And hosting forums like today’s is just that – an educational experience and opportunity to learn about some of the most pressing national issues affecting us locally.”
Before President Obama spoke to a crowd of about 400 in the College Center Commons on the LCCC campus, he visited with four students who are involved in short-term training programs at either LCCC or the Lorain County JVS. The students are all unemployed and are enrolled in short-term training in either CNC Machining or Electronic Health Records.
“These people inspire me,” Obama told the larger crowd after meeting with the four students. “The resilience they show and the determination they show, that’s what America is all about. That defines our spirit. We don’t quit.”
The students shared with Obama the challenges they have faced in returning to school to learn new skills. The four student participants were Duane Sutton, 52; Bronson Harwood, 34; David Palmer, 60; and Andrea Ashley, 42.
“None of our training would be possible without the federal support for these incredible programs,” Harwood said during his introduction of President Obama to the gathered crowd.
“This program has given me another opportunity, another chance. It’s giving me a shot to re-start my career,” Harwood, of Vermilion, said.
Harwood is an unemployed student in LCCC’s CNC Machining program. Harwood was laid off in April 2010. He continued to get called in for day jobs, but decided he needed to find steady employment. Going through the Employment netWork, Harwood and his career director looked over numerous programs and determined that LCCC’s CNC Machining program was well suited for his skillset and career goals.
“In an economy that’s still recovering from the worst economic crisis of our lifetime, the work that’s going on here could not be more important,” Obama said.
He said in talking with business owners across the country they told him they have more openings than the number of workers to fill the jobs.
“When you take classes at a community college like this one, you learn the skills that you need to get a job right away. That does not just benefit you; it benefits the company that ends up hiring you and profiting from your skills. It makes the entire region stronger economically. It makes this country stronger economically,” Obama said.
Church agreed. “As a region, we are at a pivotal moment. Our ability to help companies grow jobs relies heavily on having a ready talent pool,” he said. “Ensuring that the College and its workforce partners are offering the right training and education to prepare people for these jobs is our highest priority.”
LCCC is a partner in managing the local employment One Stop, known as the Employment netWork. Established in 1996, the Employment netWork represents collaboration between the Lorain County Commissioners, Lorain County Joint Vocational School, LCCC and a variety of business, industry and education partners.
This partnership greatly enhances the “system’s” ability to serve both employers and job seekers. Individuals can access the same services at LCCC, Lorain County Joint Vocational School or at the One-Stop main location. In fact, LCCC hosts a branch of the Employment netWork in its Enrollment and Career Services area on campus, sharing a facility with a branch of the public library, assuring easy access for all.
It is through this collaborative of The Employment netWork that critical Workforce Investment Act (WIA) training funds have been leveraged to help the most vulnerable segment of the population – dislocated workers – gain the retraining they need, quickly, to re-enter the workforce. Through a variety of targeted initiatives, the collaborative approach has served Lorain County workers successfully, with more than 750 individuals benefitting from WIA-sponsored training at LCCC and the Lorain County Joint Vocational School.
“The college has left nothing unturned in preparing me for a new career,” said David Palmer, 60, of Elyria. Palmer is a Vietnam veteran that worked as a truck driver for 23 years after the Marine Corps. “I’m not ready to go to pasture yet, so I decided to get a better job.” He is also in the CNC training.
Dale Lawhorn, 42, of Brunswick is also benefitting from training at LCCC.
Lawhorn was laid off from his job as a union pipefitter. He was unemployed for two years when he enrolled in the Stationary Steam Engineer program at LCCC. He will earn his certificate next week.
“I didn’t have a job for over two years. I can’t sit around, I’m not that type of guy,” Lawhorn said. He hopes to work boiler systems operator. “I think my job prospects are really good. The opportunities I’m looking at are very good.”
He said WIA training works for him “… and guys like me, middle class … I don’t want to sit around. I’m not asking for welfare, I’m not asking for a handout; just give me a job to do.”
Job-training programs at LCCC are a component of the College’s mission to build a skilled talent pool for employers. These programs also complement the role LCCC plays in encouraging students to consider entrepreneurship as a career choice.
“The research clearly shows that a region needs a few essential ingredients to help entrepreneurs turn new ideas into new businesses,” Church said. These include teaching, coaching, mentoring; access to capital; an incubating environment; and access to essential commercialization equipment.
LCCC has brought all of these ingredients together through its educational and training programs; through the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise (GLIDE) business incubator on the LCCC campus; and through the Innovation Fund, which provides early stage funding to entrepreneurs in the region.
For more information, visit www.lorainccc.edu/president.