CCD Welcomed Vice President Joe Biden to Our New Manufacturing Center

July 21, 2015

In an effort to advance the Obama administration's proposal of free community college for all, Vice President Joe Biden visited CCD's new Advanced Manufacturing Center on July 21st.

The Vice President stressed that twelve years of school is not enough and that six in ten jobs in the future will require some education beyond high school. In Colorado, by 2020, 74 percent of all jobs will require post-secondary education.

The Vice President toured the new building with CCD Manufacturing Director Tony Rubino and spoke one-on-one with CCD welding student Wilma Harp and machining student Luke Irick. The round-table discussion, moderated by John Altland, focused on the importance of building a Colorado workforce with the right skills for jobs that pay well and provide a solid path to the middle class for Colorado residents.

Panelists included Governor John Hickenlooper and Mayor Michael Hancock along with Mike McCue, CEO of Accu-Precision and Laurie Lee Johnson, Deputy Plant Manager, of the Denver Mint, both of whom have hired CCD students to work in their manufacturing centers.

"You can be the best mechanic in the world and been working for 30 years, but without training on the new machines, you're out of a job, man," Biden said.

Community colleges can connect workers to jobs with just a short amount of training. In an interview with Shaun Boyd of CBS 4, Dr. Chris Budden, CCD’s Dean of the Center for Career & Technical Education, explained that CCD offers certificates and degrees necessary to land jobs. “And they’re not just two-year programs,” he said. “We have certificates that you can do in just one semester, and go out and find a good job.”

Dr. Budden went on to say that often times students are hired before they complete their training because the need for workers is so great.

CCD welding student Arlene Pace spoke to the importance of bringing more women into the program. An alumna of University of Colorado, Boulder, Pace holds a BA in English and decided to enroll in CCD's welding program in order to find a job. "Do you think you'll be able to make a good living?" asked the Vice President. "Absolutely, I can make a good living," she said. "I wouldn't be here otherwise."

Another student, Ramone Alire agreed with Pace. "I found welding to be recession-proof," Alire said. "The world is held together by the makers, those who build things. That's what I hope to accomplish by coming here—that by learning the skills, I can support my family with a healthy workload and be able to mix my creativity with a trade that has a potential for the future."

Funded through the U.S. Department of Labor, the CHAMP Grant (Colorado Helps Advanced Manufacturing Program) provided the resources to renovate and upgrade CCD’s new manufacturing center. It also allowed for the purchase of cutting edge advanced manufacturing equipment, including Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) machines to provide high level skills training to incumbent workers, enabling increases in pay for the workers and more efficient manufacturing processes for employers.

With these funds, CCD can increase our students’ abilities and to recruit future students who are unemployed or underemployed to the welding, machine technologies, and engineering graphics and mechanical design programs. From veterans to women to high school graduates, the new facility will allow for the increase in our programs three times over the next few years. In addition, CCD is partnering with local manufacturing businesses to connect our students with internships, which often lead to full-time positions upon graduation.

At the end of the round table discussion, the Vice President talked with students, put his arms around them and in a huddle, gave them a pep talk about finishing school, staying the course, and remaining strong. It pays off, he said.

For more information on the VP's visit, please read Denver Business Journal's article, by Cathy Proctor.