Vice President of the United States is visiting Goodwin College, a private non-profit college that primarily grants associate's degrees, in East Hartford, Connecticut. He was here to talk about the importance of community colleges and other educational institutions listening to industry when designing job training curriculum. Goodwin College has traditionally been a place to get career training in medical fields, but a year ago, started a manufacturing track, and is greatly expanding those offerings this year, with an associate's degree in supply chain and logistics management, one in quality management systems, and certificates in machining and manufacturing and production.
Vice President, who was wearing a navy jacket, white shirt, and royal blue tie with black and white diagonal stripes, started speaking to 16 luncheon guests at about 1:20 p.m. Guests included: Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, Marcia LeClerc, East Hartford mayor, the president of Goodwin College and the head of its manufacturing program, four Goodwin College manufacturing students, United Technologies Corp CEO Louis Chenevert and the general manager of Alpha Q, the head of the IAM chapter that represents Pratt & Whitney production workers, a small aerospace manufacturer in the region, and Elliot Ginsberg, leader of a manufacturing training facility.
After some joking among the politicians and some family back stories (both Malloy and Larson are the youngest of eight kids), Malloy explained why Biden was invited to talk about manufacturing training. Biden had produced a report recently on the importance of industry-guided training programs.
Malloy said the state's manufacturing sector will need to hire 2,200 workers per year for the foreseeable future. He said that when he took office, there was one community college with an advanced manufacturing center, but now there are four. And he said the volume of hiring "is why we have this partnership with this private, non-profit college. My relationship with Goodwin has meant wonderful things to me."
Malloy said, "We were worried for a period of time we might lose Pratt & Whitney or other operations" of UTC.
Before Biden began speaking about training, he talked about the murder of James Foley, a journalist who had been captured by the militant Islamic group ISIS. He called James Foley Jim.
"I have spoken with the President today... about the brutal murder, the savage murder, of Jim Foley." He called Foley a journalist "who was really respected by everyone who knew him. A guy who was all about the truth and speaking the truth." He said losing a loved one in any circumstance is difficult, but said "the sheer savagery and brutality... of ISIS... has just shocked the whole world."
He said he and the President have spent a whole lot of time recently in the Situation Room. He said of ISIS: "They're attempting to wipe out entire elements of the population in Iraq, including Muslims. I'm proud of the President stepping forward." He talked about the crisis of the Yazidi refugees on Mt. Sinjar, and how ISIS was taking "young girls from that city and selling them, auctioning them off. This is just something out of the sixth century, the fifth century."
He declared of ISIS: "They will not last. They will not succeed."
"The press that's here, they know that better than anything, it takes an incredible amount of physical courage to do the work your colleagues do overseas. So many, so many journalists put their lives on the line. Our hearts go out to his family."
He then got back to the topic at hand.
"Louis, if you keep on, maybe we'll canonize you," he said.
He said he'd make a few comments about why we're here today.
"I don't have to remind anybody we went through a godawful recession," he said. He said the country lost nearly 9 million jobs. "The recession clobbered the middle class. The previous eight to ten years, the middle class was already losing ground. But things have begun to change." He said the United States has added 9.9 million new jobs.
American workers are three times more productive than Chinese workers. He said during the 1990s, the conventional wisdom was "We can no longer be in manufacturing."
"But here's the deal. Your children all heard the phrase outsourcing. Your grandchildren are going to hear the phrase insourcing. Manufacturing is coming back to the United States of America."
He said the manufacturing jobs that aren't the same jobs that left.
"What's coming back requires different skills than before."
He said that 60 percent of new jobs will require more education than a high school degree.
He said the United States economy and political stability have been built on a prosperous middle class, and four months ago, Canada overtook the United States as the country with the richest middle class.
"It's the glue that holds the system together."
"There's a lot we have to do to restore the middle class," he said. He said his father used to say "A job's a lot more than a paycheck. It's about your self respect. It's about your place in the community. It's about dignity." He said the government needs to do its part to make "sure they have jobs that are worthwhile."
He said, "Pratt & Whitney is one of the great companies in the world. It's a different company than it was 20 years ago." Chenevert nodded in agreement.
"The thing that I came here to see is that you all have figured it out before we nationally have figured it out."
"We can, we can, we can have the most educated, the most sophisticated workforce in the world. The federal government's not going to do this, the state government's not going to do this. It's the free enterprise system. But what we can do is connect the dots."
Biden talked about the need for IT workers, dental hygienists, registered nurses, psychiatric nurses -- "The list goes on."
"The folks are here, the companies, they're saying, 'Hey, send me some qualified people."
"This is not rocket science, no pun intended. This is serious business. I'm going to get a chance to hear from the students that are here, and what their expectations are."
Then the press was ushered out of the room. Biden spoke for about 25 minutes.
At the end of the luncheon, the press returned.
Biden said: "This initiative here, at this community college [sic] is actually the thing that's needed all across America."
He said, "It takes a lot of courage if you're 42 years old, you lost your job: Am I going to go back to school? It's intimidating."
"I want to compliment the Senator, the Congressman, the Governor for pulling together the college, the business community, the labor community in one room [and asking] 'How do we get this done?'"
Malloy said: "I have not visited, in the last year, a single manufacturer that wasn't looking for additional people. Something we thought would never happen in the state of Connecticut again."
Your pool reporter asked the Vice President why it was important for him to come to Connecticut to raise money for Malloy's re-election. "I think it's important to keep really good men and women in office. This is not your father's Republican party."
He said there used to be areas where Democrats and Republicans could work together in Washington, such as infrastructure. He said everyone used to believe that workers should share in the rising profitability of their employers. "That's not happening today. I don't know the governor's opponent. He doesn't seem to share that view."
He praised Malloy as an incredibly innovative governor.
"I'm prejudiced, he's my friend. He's a Democrat. I'm a Democrat," he said. "I acknowledge that. But by any standard, this guy has done more." How can we be arguing about whether the minimum wage should go up? Sixty seven percent of the American people think the minimum wage should go up."
He said Malloy was one of the few governors who got it done, and Malloy jumped in and noted he was the first.
The AP reporter asked if Foley's beheading changed the U.S. approach to ISIS. Biden said no, but it shines a spotlight on the horrors going on in that part of the world.
The second press availability lasted about 10 minutes.