[House Hearing, 113 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
REVIVING OUR ECONOMY: THE ROLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN JOB GROWTH AND
SUBCOMMITTEE ON HIGHER EDUCATION
AND WORKFORCE TRAINING
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
AND THE WORKFORCE
U.S. House of Representatives
ONE HUNDRED THIRTEENTH CONGRESS
HEARING HELD IN MONROE, MI, APRIL 9, 2013
Serial No. 113-11
Printed for the use of the Committee on Education and the Workforce
Available via the World Wide Web:
Committee address: http://edworkforce.house.gov
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COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE
JOHN KLINE, Minnesota, Chairman
Thomas E. Petri, Wisconsin George Miller, California,
Howard P. ``Buck'' McKeon, Senior Democratic Member
California Robert E. Andrews, New Jersey
Joe Wilson, South Carolina Robert C. ``Bobby'' Scott,
Virginia Foxx, North Carolina Virginia
Tom Price, Georgia Ruben Hinojosa, Texas
Kenny Marchant, Texas Carolyn McCarthy, New York
Duncan Hunter, California John F. Tierney, Massachusetts
David P. Roe, Tennessee Rush Holt, New Jersey
Glenn Thompson, Pennsylvania Susan A. Davis, California
Tim Walberg, Michigan Raul M. Grijalva, Arizona
Matt Salmon, Arizona Timothy H. Bishop, New York
Brett Guthrie, Kentucky David Loebsack, Iowa
Scott DesJarlais, Tennessee Joe Courtney, Connecticut
Todd Rokita, Indiana Marcia L. Fudge, Ohio
Larry Bucshon, Indiana Jared Polis, Colorado
Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan,
Lou Barletta, Pennsylvania Northern Mariana Islands
Martha Roby, Alabama John A. Yarmuth, Kentucky
Joseph J. Heck, Nevada Frederica S. Wilson, Florida
Susan W. Brooks, Indiana Suzanne Bonamici, Oregon
Richard Hudson, North Carolina
Luke Messer, Indiana
Juliane Sullivan, Staff Director
Jody Calemine, Minority Staff Director
SUBCOMMITTEE ON HIGHER EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE TRAINING
VIRGINIA FOXX, North Carolina, Chairwoman
Thomas E. Petri, Wisconsin Ruben Hinojosa, Texas,
Howard P. ``Buck'' McKeon, Ranking Minority Member
California John F. Tierney, Massachusetts
Glenn Thompson, Pennsylvania Timothy H. Bishop, New York
Tim Walberg, Michigan John A. Yarmuth, Kentucky
Matt Salmon, Arizona Suzanne Bonamici, Oregon
Brett Guthrie, Kentucky Carolyn McCarthy, New York
Lou Barletta, Pennsylvania Rush Holt, New Jersey
Joseph J. Heck, Nevada Susan A. Davis, California
Susan W. Brooks, Indiana David Loebsack, Iowa
Richard Hudson, North Carolina
Luke Messer, Indiana
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held on April 9, 2013.................................... 1
Statement of Members:
Foxx, Hon. Virginia, Chairwoman, Subcommittee on Higher
Education and Workforce Training........................... 1
Prepared statement of.................................... 2
Walberg, Hon. Tim, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Michigan.......................................... 3
Prepared statement of.................................... 4
Statement of Witnesses:
Betz, Cheri, southeast regional director, College for
Professional Studies, Siena Heights University............. 35
Prepared statement of.................................... 37
Dowler, Lynette, plant director, fossil generation, DTE
Prepared statement of.................................... 9
Fairbanks, Dan, UAW international representative, UAW-GM
Skill Development and Training Department.................. 16
Prepared statement of.................................... 18
Levy, Douglas A., director of financial aid, Macomb Community
Prepared statement of.................................... 49
Lievens, J. Henry, commissioner, Monroe County............... 6
Prepared statement of.................................... 7
Nixon, David E., Ed.D., president, Monroe County Community
Prepared statement of.................................... 31
Shields, Michelle M., career coach, Jackson Community College 44
Prepared statement of.................................... 46
Smith, Susan, executive director, Economic Development
Partnership, Hillsdale County.............................. 12
Prepared statement of.................................... 15
REVIVING OUR ECONOMY:
THE ROLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN
JOB GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
U.S. House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training
Committee on Education and the Workforce
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9:04 a.m., in
Administration Building, Monroe County Community College, 1555
S. Raisinville Rd., Monroe, MI, Hon. Virginia Foxx, [chairwoman
of the subcommittee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Foxx and Walberg.
Staff Present: Casey Buboltz, Coalitions and Member
Services Coordinator; Amy Jones, Education Policy Counsel and
Senior Advisor; Emily Slack, Legislative Assistant; Alex
Sollberger, Communications Director; and John D'Elia, Minority
Labor Policy Associate.
Chairwoman Foxx. A quorum being present, the subcommittee
will come to order.
Good morning and welcome to the first field hearing of the
Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training in the
113th Congress. It is good to be here in Michigan's 7th
District with my esteemed colleague, Representative Walberg.
Thank you all for joining us.
I am a former community college president, and I am
particularly glad to be on a community college campus and, I
think, to see a group of students with us this morning. So I am
glad that whoever your teachers were had good advice to send
you over to the hearing, and we are delighted to have you with
I also want to give a special thanks to our witnesses. I
know you all have busy schedules, and we are grateful you are
taking time to share your valuable insights with us today.
Despite recent employment gains, these are still tough
times for far too many Americans. Here in Michigan, the
unemployment rate stands at 8.8 percent, higher than the
national rate. Meanwhile, local job creators report they are
unable to find workers with the skills necessary to compete for
available jobs. This issue, called the ``skills gap,'' was the
subject of a recent two-day conference Governor Rick Snyder
hosted with many of Michigan's business, education, and
Our nation's economy is only as strong as its workforce.
And right now, the federal system intended to help workers
access the education and skills they need to succeed is broken.
To support our workforce and tackle the skills gap problem, the
U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation last month
that will ensure workers have access to a more efficient and
effective workforce development system. The legislation, known
as the SKILLS Act, will eliminate waste and better align
available education and workforce development programs with the
needs of local employers and workers.
However, more must be done. In the coming months, the
committee will begin its work to reform the Nation's higher
education system. As part of that effort, my colleagues and I
will discuss responsible reforms that will help provide
institutions with additional flexibility so they can be more
responsive to the needs of students, the community, and the
local workforce. We must also work to eliminate federal
mandates and red tape that raise costs for schools and prevent
As I said earlier, I am a former community college
president and university administrator, and as such I
understand the importance of forging partnerships among
businesses, communities, and institutions of higher education.
When I was at Mayland Community College, I worked with business
owners and community leaders to collaborate on ways we could
better meet the needs of the local economy and workforce.
Investing in those relationships helps ensure businesses have a
skilled workforce while also providing opportunities for
students to advance their education.
In addition to learning about the challenges and
opportunities facing Michigan's schools and workplaces, the
committee is very interested to hear your take on federal
policies that may be standing in the way of job creation. As we
work to foster a growing economy, we must make sure Washington
does not block the road to growth and prosperity. I hope we can
have a productive discussion today on ways we can work together
at the local, state, and federal level to help rebuild our
economy and help support a more prosperous future for families
here in Michigan and across the United States.
Again, we appreciate the panelists' participation in
today's hearing, and I'm looking forward to getting this
discussion underway. Let me also thank Mr. Walberg for his
gracious invitation to hold a field hearing here in his
district, and without objection, I now yield to him for his
[The statement of Chairwoman Foxx follows:]
Prepared Statement of Hon. Virginia Foxx, Chairwoman,
Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training
Good morning, and welcome to the first field hearing of the
Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training in the 113th
Congress. It is good to be here in Michigan's 7th District with my
esteemed colleague Representative Walberg. Thank you all for joining
us. I'd like to extend a special thanks to our witnesses. I know you
all have busy schedules, and we are grateful that you are taking the
time to share your valuable insight with us today.
Despite recent employment gains, these are still tough times for
far too many Americans. Here in Michigan, the unemployment rate stands
at 8.8 percent--higher than the national rate. Meanwhile, local job
creators report they are unable to find workers with the skills
necessary to compete for available jobs. This issue, called the
``skills gap,'' was the subject of a recent two day conference Governor
Rick Snyder hosted with many of Michigan's business, education, and
Our nation's economy is only as strong as its workforce. And right
now, the federal system intended to help workers access the education
and skills they need to succeed is broken. To support our workforce and
tackle the skills gap problem, the U.S. House of Representatives
approved legislation last month that will ensure workers have access to
a more efficient and effective workforce development system. The
legislation, known as the SKILLS Act, will eliminate waste and better
align available education and workforce development programs with the
needs of local employers and workers.
However, more must be done. In the coming months, the committee
will begin its work to reform the nation's higher education system. As
part of that effort, my colleagues and I will discuss responsible
reforms that will help provide institutions with additional flexibility
so they can be more responsive to the needs of students, the community,
and the local workforce. We must also work to eliminate federal
mandates and red tape that raise costs for schools and prevent
As a former community college president and university
administrator, I understand the importance of forging partnerships
between businesses, communities, and institutions of higher education.
When I was at Mayland Community College, I worked with business owners
and community leaders to collaborate on ways we could better meet the
needs of the local economy and workforce. Investing in those
relationships helps ensure businesses have a skilled workforce while
also providing opportunities for students to advance their education.
In addition to learning about the challenges and opportunities
facing Michigan's schools and workplaces, the committee is very
interested to hear your take on federal policies that may be standing
in the way of job creation. As we work to foster a growing economy, we
must make sure Washington does not block the road to growth and
prosperity. I hope we can have a productive discussion today on ways we
can work together--at the local, state, and federal level--to help
rebuild our economy and help support a more prosperous future for
families here in Michigan and across the United States.
Again, we appreciate our panelists' participation in today's
hearing, and I'm looking forward to getting this discussion underway.
Let me also thank Mr. Walberg for his gracious invitation to hold a
field hearing here in his district, and without objection, I now yield
to him for his opening remarks.
Mr. Walberg. I thank the Chairwoman for this opportunity. I
have attended a number of field hearings a long ways from my
district, so it is nice to have one in my district and have the
opportunity for my district, as well as others, to speak on a
Chairwoman Foxx, I appreciate the time that you have given
this morning to travel from beautiful North Carolina--North
Carolina; is that how you say it?--all the way up to extremely
beautiful and productive Michigan, Southeast Michigan
specifically here. I would like to thank all of the staff here
at Monroe County Community College and its president, David
Nixon, for the time it took to prepare for this hearing and
allowing us to use their facilities. To our witnesses, I would
also like to thank you for making time to participate today.
This is a unique opportunity to shine a national spotlight
on how higher education, community leaders and businesses in
Michigan are effectively bridging what has now come to be known
as the skills gap.
Well before the financial crisis of 2008, our communities
here in Michigan wrestled with the challenge of ensuring the
skills processed or possessed by our workforce meet the skills
demanded by our ever-evolving work needs. Bridging this gap
ensures our ability to grow businesses and compete domestically
In Michigan, the unemployment rate is near 9 percent, and
yet we hear from entrepreneurs every day that Michigan is open
for business. The predicament many businesses face is that they
simply cannot find enough employees with the skills and
training to fill their demands for jobs. In fact, MITalent.org,
one of the premier sites that Michigan employers use to recruit
talent, shows the demand for jobs. A search within 50 miles of
where we are sitting today shows there are more than 16,000
jobs currently available. Remarkably, that number would be
substantially higher if it were not for some of the
institutions of higher education, businesses, and workforce
development agencies across the region that are represented in
this room this morning.
Despite the tough economic circumstances we face, employers
like DTE and many others that call our region home continue to
renew and expand their operations and demand educated
employees. They see the value in working with schools like
Siena Heights University and community colleges like those in
Jackson and Monroe and others to teach future employees the
skills needed to fill these good-paying jobs which can support
One of our tasks on the Subcommittee on Higher Education
and Workforce Training requires us to examine actions we can be
taking on the federal level in using hard-working taxpayer
dollars effectively--let me say that again, effectively using
hard-working taxpayer dollars--to encourage our institutions of
higher education and job creators to work in collaboration in
getting job seekers prepared for the careers currently
available in the market today.
One such action we recently took, as the Chairwoman
expressed, was to pass the SKILLS Act that was authored by my
colleague sitting next to me, the Chairwoman of this
subcommittee. The SKILLS Act would consolidate and streamline
our workforce development processes to make them more efficient
and ensure that hard-working taxpayers see their money spent
wisely. The legislation places an emphasis on workforce
development at the local level by requiring local workforce
boards to set aside a portion of their funding for training
programs. This will enable community colleges, such as Monroe
and Jackson, to contract with their local boards to more
adequately address the needs of their community and their
students. I believe the SKILLS Act was a significant step to
help Michigan's job seekers.
As we go about our work in the U.S. House of
Representatives and the Education and Workforce Committee, we
need to continue on the path of working to reform our federal
policies that enable job creation for a healthy economy. It is
my goal to highlight what many schools and businesses in our
great state are already doing by collaborating with job
creators to ensure students learn the skills necessary for what
is currently in demand, as well as what we will need for the
And so again, I thank the chairman of this subcommittee for
hosting and carrying on this field hearing, and I am expecting
great opportunities to flow from it. Thank you.
[The statement of Mr. Walberg follows:]
Prepared Statement of Hon. Tim Walberg, a Representative in
Congress From the State of Michigan
Chairwoman Foxx, I appreciate your time this morning to travel from
North Carolina to be here with us. I would like to thank all of the
staff here at Monroe County Community College for the time it took them
to prepare for this hearing and allowing us to use their facilities. To
our witnesses, I would also like to thank you for making time to
participate today. This is a unique opportunity to shine a national
spotlight on how higher education, community leaders and businesses in
Michigan are effectively bridging what is now come to be known as the
Well before the financial crisis of 2008, our communities here in
Michigan wrestled with the challenge of ensuring the skills possessed
by our workforce meet the skills demanded by our ever-evolving job
market. Bridging this gap ensures our ability to grow business and
compete domestically and internationally.
In Michigan the unemployment rate is near 9 percent and yet we hear
from entrepreneurs every day that Michigan is ``open for business.''
The predicament many businesses face is that they simply cannot find
enough employees with the skills and training to fill their demand for
jobs. In fact, M-I-Talent.org--one of the premier sites that Michigan
employers use to recruit talent--shows that demand for jobs. A search
within 50 miles of where we are sitting shows there are more than 16
thousand jobs currently available today. Remarkably, that number would
be substantially higher if it were not for some of the institutions of
higher education, businesses, and workforce development agencies across
the region that are represented in this room.
Despite the tough economic circumstances we face, employers like
DTE and many others that call our region home continue to renew and
expand their operations and demand educated employees. They see the
value in working with schools like Siena Heights University and
community colleges like those in Jackson and Monroe County to teach
future employees the skills needed to fill these good paying jobs which
can support their families.
One of our tasks on the Subcommittee on Higher Education and
Workforce Training requires us to examine actions we can be taking on
the federal level in using hard-working taxpayer dollars effectively to
encourage our institutions of higher education and job creators to work
in collaboration in getting job seekers prepared for the careers
One such action we recently took was to pass the SKILLS Act that
was authored by my colleague sitting next to me and the Chairwoman of
this Subcommittee, Dr. Foxx. The SKILLS Act would consolidate and
streamline our workforce development processes to make them more
efficient and ensure that hardworking taxpayers see their money spent
wisely. The legislation places an emphasis on workforce development at
the local level by requiring local workforce boards to set aside a
portion of their funding for training programs. This will enable
community colleges, such as Monroe and Jackson, to contract with their
local boards to more adequately address the needs of their community
I believe the SKILLS Act was a significant step to help Michigan's
job seekers. As we go about our work in the U.S. House of
Representatives and the Education and Workforce Committee we need to
continue on the path of working to reform our federal policies that
enable job creation for a healthy economy. It is my goal to highlight
what many schools and businesses in our great state are already doing
by collaborating with job creators to ensure students learn the skills
necessary for what is currently in demand as well as what will be in
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you, Congressman Walberg.
I also want to say thank you to the staff and the
administration here at the community college for their work in
setting up the hearing, and our staff. Most people have no idea
how much work goes into having a hearing, even in Washington,
and then to have one remotely takes a lot of effort. So I want
to thank Amy and Casey and Emily and all the folks who worked
to put this hearing together today.
Pursuant to committee Rule 7(c), all committee members will
be permitted to submit written statements to be included in the
permanent hearing record. And without objection, the hearing
record will remain open for 14 days to allow statements,
questions for the record, and other extraneous material
referenced during the hearing to be submitted in the official
We have two distinguished panels of witnesses today, and I
would like to begin by introducing the first panel.
Mr. Henry Lievens is currently serving his eighth year as a
Monroe County Commissioner. As a member of the County Board of
Commissioners, Mr. Lievens chairs the Personnel Services and
Human Resources Committee that deals with all Monroe County
Ms. Lynette Dowler serves as Plant Director within the
Fossil Generation organization at DTE Energy and is currently a
Foundation member for Monroe Community College Board of
Ms. Susan Smith has served as the Executive Director of the
Economic Development Partnership of Hillsdale County since
2009. Prior to serving in this role, she worked with the
Lenawee Economic Development Corporation, as well as the
Lenawee Training and Education Consortium.
Mr. Dan Fairbanks serves as the UAW International
Representative for the UAW-GM Skilled Development and Training
Before I recognize each of you to provide your testimony,
let me briefly explain our lighting system. You will each have
5 minutes to present your testimony. When you begin, the light
in front of you will turn green. When 1 minute is left, the
light will turn yellow; and when your time has expired, the
light will turn red, at which point I ask that you wrap up your
remarks as best as you are able. After everyone has testified,
members will each have 5 minutes to ask questions of the panel.
I now recognize Commissioner Henry Lievens for 5 minutes.
STATEMENT OF HENRY LIEVENS, COMMISSIONER,
Mr. Lievens. Thank you. I'm not sure that I'll need the
entire 5 minutes. I always like to think that brevity is the
soul of wit, so I will keep it to a minimum.
I am both a county commissioner and a practicing attorney,
so my thoughts and observations are on two points. And if I
could begin with a mile-high perspective of Monroe County.
Monroe County has an approximate labor force of 68,500
folks, of which about 5,600 or 8.2 percent are currently
unemployed. I understand that that is less than the state
average, but it is still unacceptable. While unemployment
numbers are improving, the devastating effects of the peak 2009
14 percent unemployment rates are still being felt.
I took office in 2005, graduating from law school in 2003,
and my entire professional and political career has been marked
by war and recession. These have been challenging times for the
Nation, and particularly for the State of Michigan, being the
home of manufacturing.
Of the changes in the specific industries, the largest job
losses were in manufacturing here locally, approximately 2,818
jobs being lost in manufacturing and construction of 1,346. I
would never argue that government should be the main employer.
I am a big proponent of the private sector. In the County of
Monroe, when I took office, there were approximately 725
employees. With the loss of jobs, how that has corresponded in
housing and our general tax revenue streams, we have downsized
to now 400, almost half of the employees we once had.
What that means is the increased need for technology. The
days of the typist pools, the filing clerks are now giving way
to more tech savvy type jobs, going paperless. The prosecutor's
office now is currently or has been working on a paperless
system whereby the police report to the prosecution to the
court is done via computer systems electronically and the rest.
This is translating into higher technology jobs for the county.
In addition to that, in my private practice, a lot of the
folks that I see that come before me are having problems with
jobs. A big assistance to them is the skilled trades. There
aren't the jobs anymore for the unskilled trades. These are
folks that need to be trained in welding, in other types of
things that the community college is providing. So that is one
of the things that we see in gains in the skilled trades,
especially health care. Those jobs in the county are up 1,850.
So the lasting consequences I am seeing the change in the
county is the need for more skilled trades and professional
service-sector jobs, and that is one of the things that the
community college is helping provide, and I would like to see
the resources provided to them to help encourage the
reinvigoration of our local county economy.
[The statement of Mr. Lievens follows:]
Prepared Statement of J. Henry Lievens,
Monroe County Commissioner
Good morning, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, Congressman Tim Walberg,
Mayor Robert Clark, Monroe County Community College President Dr. David
Nixon, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. My name is J. Henry
Lievens. I have been a Monroe County Commissioner for 8 years and a
practicing attorney for 9 years. For the past 6 years I have served the
Board of Commissioners as Chairman for the Personnel Services and Human
I am also a member of the local Exchange Club, Monroe Center for
Health Aging and Land Bank. I would like to thank you for this
opportunity to discuss my observations with you today.
The uncertain state of the economy remains a primary concern for
many in Michigan and especially so for the residents of Monroe County.
Monroe County has an approximate labor force of 68,500 of which
5,600 or 8.2% are unemployed.
While unemployment numbers are improving, the devastating effects
of the peak 2009 14% unemployment rate are still being felt.
Of the changes within specific industries, the largest job losses
were in manufacturing (-2,818) and construction (-1,346) while gains
were made in service sector jobs, especially health care and social
Thus, the lasting consequence is the necessity for education for
skilled trades and professional sector jobs.
In Monroe County, an individual without a high school diploma earns
less than $18,000 a year while their counterpart with an associate
degree can expect almost $37,000.
This reflects the reality that the jobs for the unskilled trades/
labor are no longer the reality for Monroe County and demonstrate the
need to develop the resources necessary to train for the future needs
for skilled trades and professions.
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you very much.
I now recognize Ms. Lynette Dowler for 5 minutes.
STATEMENT OF LYNETTE DOWLER, PLANT DIRECTOR,
FOSSIL GENERATION, DTE ENERGY
Ms. Dowler. Good morning and thank you for the opportunity
to speak with you this morning. My name is Lynette Dowler, and
I have been with DTE Energy for 30 years. DTE Energy is an
electric provider to 2.1 million customers here in Michigan,
and a natural gas provider to 1.2 million customers here in the
State of Michigan. That process is really, for our customers,
supposed to be a very easy process, so that they can just flip
on a light, right? So our job is really just to provide
electricity and power.
In order to do that, we have 10,000 employees, and those
employees need to be well educated, well skilled, and well
trained. Part of the job of DTE Energy is really to have a
robust workforce plan. We work very diligently to manage our
workforce plan, and we review that on a regular basis, and we
identify the critical jobs within our company. In that process,
we look out over the next five years to see where our attrition
rates are, and in our company, at DTE Energy, we are projecting
about 25 to 33 percent attrition rate.
As we look at the skills and the talents that we need in
our company over the next five years--and we have had a
tremendous partnership with many colleges across the state, one
of them being here at Monroe Community College--to assure that
as we attrit through our corporation we have skills and talents
that can come through our community colleges to help support
the talent gaps that we have in our corporation. Some of those
talents are splicers, electrical journeymen, maintenance
journeymen, nuclear power plant operators, I&C technicians. It
is not easy to get a nuclear power plant operator just off the
street. You need specialized training.
And in order to have a great partnership, we have to have a
community college that is open to listen and talk to you, and
we have countless examples of partnerships that we have worked
with this specific college to provide certification programs,
and I will speak to a few of them.
With Monroe County Community College, we have created a
construction management and technical certification here. We
have created a nuclear engineering technology program and e-
testing information assurance technology, boiler and power
plant technology, alternative energy certificate. Who was
talking about alternative energy 15 years ago, right? The
colleges are moving with us and with industry. It is imperative
to have that partnership for heavy industrial certificates.
The message that I would say is that the longstanding
partnership that we have had with Monroe County Community
College is not a relationship that is built upon two and three
and four and five years but it has been in place for decades.
Monroe specifically, DTE Energy is the largest taxpayer in
Monroe County. We also happen to generate the most power, power
generation, in this county. We have a Monroe power plant which
generates 3,000 megawatts, and our nuclear power plant which
generates 1,200 megawatts. So when you think about major
partnerships and major connections, this is a key connection
for DTE Energy from an employment base, from a tax base, from
an economic development base, a great employment connection. So
there are just so many things that we have connections with.
The other thing I wanted to speak to today was partnerships
and consortiums. One of the things that we are challenged by as
a corporation is how do you talk to community colleges, right?
It is one conversation with Monroe, it is another conversation
with Macomb, it is another conversation with Oakland, right?
One thing that is important, and one of my colleagues that is
here today, Raymond Kelly, the director of our training
division, we have to pull together on colleges and pull
together industry and have joint conversations with industry
and colleges, and if there is something that we can do in a
triad fashion with government, industry and education to bring
all of us together so it is not many, many one-off
conversations, we believe that would be a big step forward to
help us all move forward to understand what the skill gaps are,
what the talent gaps are, what the attrition is moving forward.
So, thank you for our time today.
[The statement of Ms. Dowler follows:]
Prepared Statement of Lynette Dowler, Plant Director,
Fossil Generation, DTE Energy
Good morning, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, Congressman Tim Walberg,
Mayor Robert Clark, Monroe County Community College President Dr. David
Nixon, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Lynette
Dowler. I have been employed at DTE Energy for 30 years. I am currently
the plant director for our Trenton Channel and River Rouge Power
Plants, two of our base-load coal-fired power plants, delivering 730
and 540 MW respectively. Prior to this position I was plant director at
our Fermi 2 Nuclear Power Plant, which produces 1,139 MW of
I am also a board member of the Foundation at Monroe Community
College, and one of many DTE Energy employees who continue to enjoy a
long and fruitful relationship with the college. I would like to thank
you for this opportunity to discuss those relationships and
interconnections with you today.
As you know, energy is vital to modern society; at DTE Energy we
call the electricity and natural gas we provide ``the lifeblood of our
communities.'' DTE Energy is a Detroit-based diversified energy company
involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses
and services nationwide. Our operating units include an electric
utility serving 2.1 million customers in Southeastern Michigan and a
natural gas utility serving 1.2 million customers throughout Michigan.
We are committed to providing safe, affordable, reliable and
environmentally responsible energy to our customers now and into the
future. There are many things that we need to ensure that we are able
to fulfill our commitment, but above all else, we need a well-educated,
well-trained local workforce.
Energy is a ``just in time'' product--it has to be available to the
customer precisely when they need it, with no effort on their part
other than flipping a switch or turning on their stove or furnace. All
the work ``behind the scenes'' is invisible to the customer, but
(except for the mining operations), that work is all done locally by
skilled DTE Energy employees.
Like many Michigan companies, DTE Energy has an aging workforce. We
realized years ago that we would need to replace our retiring workers
with new people who can step into those positions and hit the ground
running, without years of on-the-job training. That is a luxury that
employers can no longer afford.
Our Human Resources Department began building a workforce planning
program in 2008, beginning with our Nuclear Generation Department.
Implementation has continued across the enterprise, including Fossil
Generation, Electrical Distribution Operations, DTE Gas Operations,
Corporate Services, Controllers Organization and Information
A first step was to identify ``enterprise critical positions'' or
``pipelines'' that require greater than 18 months of initial training
time, are hard to fill, contain more than ten individuals, and have an
attrition rate of 33 percent or greater over the next five years.
Fourteen critical job pipelines, in addition to our entry level
professional positions, were identified as areas where we need to place
our focus given the potential for skill set shortages.
The pipelines include: Apprentice Splicer, Apprentice Lineman,
Assistant Substation Operator, System Supervisor, Apprentice Electrical
Maintenance Journeyman, Power Plant Operator, Fuel Supply Operator,
Maintenance Journeyman, Instrument and Control Technician, Nuclear
Maintenance Journeyman, Nuclear Operator, Radiation Protection
Technician, Sr. Gas Technician Controls, and Gas Distribution General
Despite the high unemployment rate in Michigan and the nation,
talent is becoming more difficult to find in these highly technical
positions. For example, in 2010 and 2011, it took some 18 months to
fill six Instrument and Control positions in our Nuclear Generation
We realized early on that this unemployment imbalance affects more
than just DTE Energy and we could not solve it on our own. One of the
strategies we are employing to address these talent gaps includes
collaborating with our local utility partners and industry
organizations to build regional consortiums and a standard utility
curriculum. Developing a standard curriculum model was first introduced
by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI); and this approach, or a similar
variation of this approach, has become the direction within the overall
This standard utility curriculum is being embedded into community
colleges' curriculums and yields a 2-year associate degree as well as
an industry certification. Variations of the training have been
developed for specific targeted groups including low income adults,
women, youth, military, and transitioning adults.
We started looking for partners--other utilities and companies
outside of our industry, unions, higher educational institutions, and
government entities--to help us tackle this societal problem. We have
made significant progress but much more needs to be done. I am happy to
be able to share with you some of our recent successes, and ask for
your help as we move forward.
One of our first endeavors was to identify educational institutions
that could serve as pipelines to supply us with the new workers we need
now and in the future. Fortunately, Monroe County Community College is
right in our backyard, close to our Fermi 2 Nuclear Power Plant, as
well as the Monroe Power Plant, our flagship 3,000 MW coal-fired
DTE Energy employees started working with Monroe County Community
College to develop educational programs to serve DTE Energy's needs and
those of other Michigan companies. These programs include Construction
Management Technology Certificate, Nuclear Engineering Technology, Non-
destructive Testing, Information Assurance Technology, Boiler and Power
Plant Fundamentals, Alternative Energy Certificate, Green Building, and
The Heavy Industrial Construction Certificate was launched in 2009,
designed for more experienced construction personnel who wish to
upgrade their skills and gain entry into management positions with
large industrial employers, as well as new entrants into the field.
This is an active and ongoing partnership that was started in
cooperation with a now-retired DTE Energy employee, the former manager
of environmental projects. Current DTE Energy employees continue to
evaluate the viability and value of this certificate program through
its advisory committee.
As you may be aware, DTE Energy is in the home stretch of a nearly
$2 billion state-of-the-art emissions control project at the Monroe
Power Plant. This project involves the installation of flue gas
desulfurization systems and selective catalytic reduction systems on
all four generating units, and the removal of the two original 800-
foot-tall stacks and their replacement with two 580-foot tall stacks
specially designed to accommodate the new equipment.
The complexity and breadth of this and other DTE Energy
construction projects, including the potential construction of the
Fermi 3 Nuclear Power Plant, inspired the development of the Heavy
Industrial Construction Certificate program, whose graduates are
already working on-site at Monroe Power Plant and other locations.
Recently developed programs at the college include the MCCC Nuclear
Engineering Technology Program which was created through a partnership
with DTE Energy and a $200,000 Congressionally directed grant award.
Through this program, MCCC offers--in conjunction with DTE Energy--an
Associate of Applied Science Degree in Nuclear Engineering Technology
that enables graduates to seek employment as nuclear engineering
technicians in various sectors of the nuclear industry. The partnership
aligned MCCC's new nuclear energy technology program with the initial
training programs offered by DTE Energy and accredited by the National
Nuclear Accrediting Board. It facilitates the transitioning of
graduates into the nuclear energy industry utility training programs in
accordance with the requirements of the Uniform Curriculum Guide for
Nuclear Power Plant Technician, Maintenance and Non-licensed Operations
Personnel Associate Degree Programs, as developed by the Nuclear Energy
Institute. MCCC also supports broader state and national interests
through the distribution of developed curriculum to other community
colleges through educational consortiums.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates the U.S. will need 44
percent more electricity by 2020. To help meet this demand, the nuclear
energy industry has calculated that 60,000 megawatts of new nuclear
power plant capacity will be required by 2020. However, many of today's
nuclear experts are part of the generation that pioneered nuclear
energy's peacetime use in the 1960s. These professionals are now
retiring, and qualified applicants are needed to take their place.
According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, about 30 percent of the
nuclear energy workforce will retire within five years. DTE Energy is
looking to Monroe County Community College to supply its new employees.
Last month, the DTE Energy Foundation announced a $1 million
contribution to support the capital campaign for the new Career
Technology Center at Monroe County Community College. The $17-million,
60,000-square foot Career Technology Center is scheduled to open this
fall. The State of Michigan is providing half of the funding ($8.5
million) in a demonstration of support for this public/private
partnership that will provide untold benefits for the region. The
Career Technology Center will provide infrastructure to support state-
of-the-art classrooms and lab space required to deliver instruction and
skills necessary to secure high-growth, high-demand and high-paying
In addition to the Nuclear Engineering Technology and Heavy
Industrial Construction classes, the program areas to be taught in the
Career Technology Center include welding, computer-aided drafting and
manufacturing, electronics, mechanical engineering and automation,
quality assurance, and automotive engineering and service with an
emphasis on hybrid and battery technology. In addition, the Career
Technology Center will provide facilities and equipment necessary for
the development of programs in the emerging areas of advanced
manufacturing; renewable energies such as wind, solar and fuel cell
technology, and sustainable and green technologies.
MCCC received a $1.7 million U.S. Department of Labor Community
Based Job Training Grant to establish a Welding Center of Expertise
that will be housed in the new Career Technology Center. The Welding
Center will deliver accelerated training in two ten-week modules
resulting in industry-recognized American Welding Society
certifications to help fill the void in skilled welders across the
energy, advanced manufacturing, and heavy construction industries. Many
of these graduates will find employment at DTE Energy.
The college has recently launched a new program with specialization
in product and process technology--designed to prepare students for
careers in the high-performance manufacturing of consumer goods. The
college has also added a program track in non-destructive testing which
involves the inspection, testing or evaluation of materials, components
and assemblies for materials' discontinuities, properties and machine
problems without further impairing or destroying the parts'
serviceability. Included among the variety of non-credit courses,
certificates and customized training offered through MCCC's Corporate
and Community Services Division is the Boiler and Power Plant
Fundamentals class and an ongoing partnership with Pearson VUE Testing
to offer advanced, computer-based CompTIA testing for certification in
14 information technology specializations.
Monroe County Community College and DTE Energy enjoy a long-
standing and close relationship in Monroe County. The college serves
DTE Energy as a highly visible and respected community partner. The
MCCC campus serves as the Joint Information Center for DTE Energy's
Fermi 2 Nuclear Power Plant, and hosted the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission during the public comment period for the Fermi 3 Combined
Operating License Application (COLA).
In return, DTE Energy has been a generous supporter of the college.
In addition to the $1 million contribution to the Career Technology
Center, other support from the DTE Energy Foundation, DTE Energy and
DTE Energy Corporate Services includes funding for Campus/Community
Events cultural arts programming, scholarships, Volunteer Leadership
Grants, employee matching gift support, and the donation of solar
panels for use by MCCC students.
Within the past two years, MCCC became the first educational
institution to participate in the DTE Energy's SolarCurrents Program,
leading to a $3 million--500mw solar installation on its main campus.
While this installation does not power the MCCC campus, it does provide
learning opportunities for MCCC students and the community as well to
become educated about the opportunity and impacts of renewable energy.
In addition to our successful partnerships with Monroe County
Community College, DTE Energy has created other promising
collaborations, including one in Distribution Operations to improve the
quality and diversity of the applicant pool for DTE Electric lineman
positions. In 2004, DTE Energy developed an electrical lines worker
training program that is considered the best in the Midwest. Working
with the National Utilities Training Fund, a partnership between the
International Brotherhood of Electric Workers and three other
utilities, we brought retired DTE Energy linemen to our technical
training center to assist with apprentice training. The lineman
program, including a 5 week pole climbing course, is used to support
candidacy for both Underground and Overhead Apprentice jobs. To-date we
have hired 39 individuals who have successfully completed this course
over the past 18 months.
Another promising program, and one which has great potential to
become a statewide and national model, is the ``Natural Gas Boot Camp''
program which DTE Energy has piloted in partnership with the Michigan
National Guard. The idea for the Boot Camp emerged in early 2012 in
meetings between DTE Energy and Brigadier General Michael Stone of the
Michigan National Guard. While DTE has been trying to boost its veteran
recruitment, the Michigan National Guard, with support from Governor
Rick Snyder, has been looking for solutions to the state's veteran
unemployment that could be applied nationwide.
DTE Energy was instrumental in developing the Boot Camp curriculum
and bringing in key partners to build the project, including Local 223
of the Utility Workers Union of America, Consumers Energy, Alpena
Community College, Schoolcraft Community College, the Center for Energy
Workforce Development and the Michigan Workforce Intelligence Network.
Graduation day was December 7 for 20 veterans who successfully
passed DTE Energy's Natural Gas Boot Camp at Camp Grayling, a Michigan
National Guard training facility. They completed four weeks of classes
taught by Alpena Community College instructors in Grayling, followed by
three weeks of hands-on instruction at Camp Grayling. A second Boot
Camp, sponsored by Consumers Energy, ran concurrently in the metro
The last step of the process was to conduct several After Action
Reviews (AAR), gathering feedback from ``the partnership'',
instructors, and students to determine what changes need to occur to
make the next session even more successful. Union leadership from all
four DTE Gas Company unions was informed of the program's progress and
participated in those AARs. Improvements are being made to the Natural
Gas Fundamentals program and will enable us to repeat our pilot success
and increase the opportunity for union engagement.
In addition, since DTE Energy provided the majority of private
funding ($60,000) needed to make this first boot camp a reality, we are
focused on reducing costs for future programs. Through the partnership
approach and the work with General Stone, we hope to increase access to
federal and/or state grants to support development and delivery of
other boot camp programs.
Beyond these two programs, several areas of opportunity exist to
support other hard-to-fill jobs identified in our workforce planning.
Specifically, power plant operator and instrument and controls
technician are on the ``boot camp design board'' for implementation in
2013. Additionally, an experiment will be conducted to create a
``supervisor'' boot camp for veterans with existing leadership and
applicable technical experience. This boot camp would provide students
with utility industry insight coupled with operational fundamentals to
support placement in DTE Electric positions, including Power Plant
Supervising Operator and Supervisor Reliability.
Congresswoman Foxx and Congressman Walberg, thank you for this
opportunity to discuss how we have been working with our partners to
address our employment needs and the higher education needs of our
customers in this region. We find that public/private partnerships
achieve the greatest results in all aspects of our business, including
workforce training. We hope this field hearing has been beneficial and
that your future travels provide you with additional useful
information. We appreciate your time and attention, and hope that you
will agree that government can assist in these efforts by providing
grants and scholarships that will enable more people to be trained in
these critical skills.
DTE Energy is one of the largest employers and tax payers in the
State of Michigan. We and our communities are inseparable. We regard
our workforce planning program as both a challenge and an opportunity,
for it allows us to fulfill our company's aspiration to be ``a force
for growth and prosperity in the communities where we live and serve.''
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you very much.
I now recognize Ms. Susan Smith for 5 minutes.
STATEMENT OF SUSAN SMITH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP OF HILLSDALE COUNTY
Ms. Smith. Thank you very much, and I really appreciate the
opportunity to be here today. I think this is a vital
conversation for the State of Michigan as we try and come back
as a highly skilled workforce and a manufacturing state in the
I have been working in workforce development and economic
development since 1993, and I have seen a lot of economies come
and go. I have always focused more on meeting employer needs,
and that is where my focus has been to try and foster their
success, and frequently that need that they have is for a
trained workforce. A lot of this work that I have done has been
in concert with South Central Michigan Works. They have a
demand driven system that works very well with our employers,
and it tends to work well to serve them as well as to help our
economy grow in Hillsdale County.
I work with a lot of different employer sectors, but
primarily it is manufacturing and industrial businesses. This
is a group that--these employers tend to pay well above minimum
wage, usually double minimum wage or more, and this provides
their employees with discretionary income to purchase the goods
and services, and that stimulates the other sectors in our
economy. So that is where my focus is, to try and grow that
A skilled workforce has become the primary concern in
regards to retaining employers and expanding their operations,
as well as attracting new business. This is not new
information, but the reaction speed to meet the skilled worker
demand is ever increasing. The shortage of available workers is
a result of a lot of factors that I have observed over time.
In Hillsdale County, we are very small. We are about 46,000
people, a little over that, and it seems that we are just a
smaller group that kind of represents in a small way what is
going on in a bigger part of the economy. The recession,
depression, whatever you want to call it, that hit us in 2008
through 2010, it really affected our working-class people in
Hillsdale County. A lot of our highly skilled workers left to
go to a region where they could have employment, gainful
employment. Many of our workers who were offered attractive
company buyouts took those. Anybody who was close to retirement
and was offered a buyout left the workforce. So the skill gap
is a factor of a lot of different things that have gone on.
The educational system has become very college forward
thinking in terms of getting curriculum in the high schools,
the 2- to 4-year college and university and beyond that, and as
that has gone on, slowly we have lost our skilled trade
programs in the high schools. That is another part of why we
are not having that gap filling at this point in time. That is
just a missing component that we have had for some time.
A lot of the companies that I work with regularly are
turning down contract work because they do not have the workers
they need to get product out the door to meet the deadlines and
to have the quality standards that their customers demand.
State workforce training dollars are no longer a part of
the incentive packages offered to companies. So when I attract
a business or someone is expanding, there is no longer a
portion of those dollars that they can go to a community
college and get training or go to a skilled trades organization
and get training. So that opportunity has been lost. Typically,
dollars from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation were
part of the overall package.
While there are other incentives that are offered,
unfortunately the training dollars no longer are there, and
that was very helpful for a lot of our employers.
There are on-the-job training dollars that are available
through South Central Michigan Works, and if we want to talk
about bureaucratic and things that kind of stymie, those
dollars are very hard to use. On-the-job training dollars, the
person who is getting those dollars has to qualify at a level
that is almost--it is just very difficult, it is very
difficult. When we were rebuilding our workforce, it was a lot
easier because we had people that had lost jobs that were
pretty highly skilled, but they could transition into a new
job. On-the-job training dollars helped them to make that
transition. So there was a time those dollars were very, very
useful and helpful for what we needed in our manufacturing
arena. But right now, however, we need dollars to get people
skilled up to even get them through the door at an employment
Incumbent Worker Training dollars are also available. The
unfortunate part about that, again, is trying to utilize those
dollars. To get those dollars, a company has to prove that the
person is either going to get laid off or terminated unless
they gain those skills. In 2008 and 2010, that would have been
great. But right now, they need to keep their people and they
need to just get their skill base a little higher. Nobody wants
to get rid of anyone. They don't want to lay them off. There
aren't enough people to go around as it is. So those dollars
are also very difficult to use.
But as far as higher education in the county, we do have a
countywide career awareness program and the College Access
Network, and that assists students to plan their futures. So
that is a good thing to start lower, back in the grade school,
in a high school situation. South Central Michigan Works goes
into what would be considered a vo-tech center. We call it our
Workforce Development and Technology Center. They help the
students in the younger--the 9th, 10th graders, 11th graders,
to know how to write a resume and the basic things that you
need to get a job, how do you interview, what kind of a work
ethic do you have to have to get a job.
So those are the kinds of things that we are getting, soft
skills training, because that is one of the major complaints
employers have--you know, show up on time, do your job when you
get here, the things that we would all probably take for
granted, but it is a learned skill for a lot of our students
Currently, the Economic Development Partnership, which is
at my office, we are partnered with the intermediate school
district and the Workforce Development Center, and we are
placing students four days out of five into a local
manufacturing situation. So they are being rotated through the
different cells in that organization, and they are learning the
different skills that you need and all kinds of things. They
have to walk in, they have to punch in just like any other
employee there. It is giving the employers a chance to observe
the students also, and they are learning what are their
aptitudes, what is their attitude, do they have a work ethic,
are they team members, are they good problem solvers and all
the other skill sets that they need for a good employee.
The students--well, it has just really exceeded what we had
hoped in the program. The students are immediately on payroll.
They are being paid for the time that they are there, even
though it is during school. They are 18 years old. I went
through the plant with them last week, and there is a
mentorship going on that was not a planned situation. The guys
on the floor are hollering out to them, waving, whatever. It is
a very good feeling to see that growth in these young people
that otherwise would have been in a classroom, not really
having the opportunity to get that real-world experience, and
we would like to grow that opportunity for these students. We
are looking for funding. We are applying for a Honda grant from
the Honda Foundation to help grow those skills, that program.
I am glad to say that all the guys that are involved in
this program right now--it is just gentlemen--they are all
going to be offered jobs at the end. This particular employer
pays for your continuing education, so they will be able to get
new apprenticeships. They will be able to have that paid for
within three to five years. They will be making $60,000,
$80,000, and they will have no student debt. So it is a very
good win locally for our students, and we really need to keep
as many of them as we possibly can.
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you, Ms. Smith.
Ms. Smith. Thank you.
Chairwoman Foxx. I appreciate it very much.
Ms. Smith. My timer did not go off.
Chairwoman Foxx. I know.
Ms. Smith. I am sorry.
[The statement of Ms. Smith follows:]
Prepared Statement of Susan Smith, Executive Director,
Economic Development Partnership, Hillsdale County
My name is Susan Smith and I am the Executive Director of the
Economic Development Partnership of Hillsdale County. I have been
engaged with Economic Development and Workforce training since 1993.
My work has always focused on meeting employer needs to foster
their success and frequently that need was for a trained workforce.
Much of this work is done in partnership with South Central Michigan
While I work with all employer sectors, my primary customers are
our manufacturing/industrial businesses. This group of employers tends
to pay well above minimum wage (usually double or more) which provides
their employees with the discretionary income to purchase goods and
services which stimulates other sectors and thus economic growth.
A skilled workforce has become the primary concern in regards to
retaining employers and expanding their operations as well as
attracting new business. This is not new information, but the reaction
speed to meet the skilled worker demand is ever increasing. The
shortage of these available workers is a result of several factors from
what I observe in Hillsdale County. We are a comparatively small County
with a population of just over 46,000 citizens and probably a small
sample of what has happened on a larger scale in larger communities.
The recession/depression that sent our economy into a downward
spiral 2008 through 2010 greatly affected our working class.
The highly skilled workers left to live in a region where work was
Many of the workers who were offered an attractive company buy out
or early retirement packages took them and left the workforce.
For an even longer period of time our educational system funding
has increasingly focused solely on curriculum for students who are
moving on to a 4 year+ college/university education. Those choosing
this route are to be commended for their ambitious goal setting and
However, over a period of time this has greatly diminished or
eliminated the educational tracks for students who want to pursue
skilled trades which are what we are lacking today in our workforce.
The programs that gave those students with mechanical or creative
ability a path are gone. This too has created the skills gap that
everyone is trying to fill today.
Many companies I work with on a regular basis are turning contract
work down because they do not have the workers they need to get product
out the door to meet deadlines and the quality standards their
State workforce training dollars are no longer a part of the
incentive package offered to companies who make multi-million dollar
investments and need a trained workforce or to the company that just
wants to take on new work and grow. The existing programs such as On-
The-Job training grants are only available to new hires who meet
stringent criteria one of which includes basically living in poverty.
Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) dollars are only available to employees
currently in the workforce. The criteria attached to using this funding
is that an employee must be facing lay-off or termination to qualify
for training. This would probably have been useful in 2008 through
2010, but today the need is to train our population of unemployed or
those entering the workforce from high school in a hands-on career. As
a community a part of the solution is growing our own workforce with
the schools and working around the bureaucratic obstacles that have
To help remedy the situation the EDP and our Workforce Development
Technology Center, which is a part of our Intermediate school district,
began investigating the viability of a pilot program last fall which
began at the onset of the last semester of the 2012-2013 school year.
The CAD/Design instructor is also a mechanical engineer by profession
which makes her a huge asset for our community. The department of
education mandates that these students be in the Cad/Design classroom a
minimum of one session a week. She has identified students in their
senior year who want to get into a work environment to better
understand the expectations and to see if the field of study they are
considering is what they believed it is. The employers ROI is to
observe the students attitude, aptitude, work ethics, team work,
problem solving and other skill sets to see if they would make a good
The outcomes have far exceeded these initial goals of the program.
Last week I had the opportunity to walk through the manufacturing
facility with the students and Human Resource Manager.
The students are on payroll and must clock in like all
As we walked through the plant, employees acknowledged the
students with a wave, thumbs up, a hearty hello * * * Clearly there is
a mentorship mentality that has grown naturally with the students as
they have been rotating between all of the work cells and learning from
Students closely observe the safety rules and were quick
to politely point out that I should be walking within the allowed
parameters of the work space. When stopping at a work station, the
students allowed for the operator to finish a sequence before
interrupting to speak with him.
To the surprise and enthusiasm of the employer some
students have requested additional work hours outside of the school
day. There are even students who did not go on their SENIOR SPRING
BREAK opting to stay home so they could work.
The Human Resource Manager is beyond impressed with each
student and sees no reason why they would not be tendered a full time
position after graduation. This employer also pays tuition
reimbursement and offers apprenticeship opportunities. Within 2-3 years
these students could be well on their way to a journeyman status making
in excess of $60,000/yr.
We are applying for a grant to the Honda Foundation to further this
work as one of their funding priorities is for economic development
projects that integrate students and workforce learning.
We have a County-Wide Career Awareness Program and College Access
Network in place to assist students plan their futures.
This is all good news, but not nearly enough to begin filling the
need quickly enough.
Chairwoman Foxx. Mr. Fairbanks, I now recognize you for 5
STATEMENT OF DAN FAIRBANKS, UAW INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE,
UAW-GM SKILL DEVELOPMENT AND TRAINING DEPARTMENT
Mr. Fairbanks. Thank you. On behalf of International Union
UAW President Bob King, and UAW Vice President in charge of the
GM Department, Joe Ashton, we appreciate the opportunity to be
here and speak. We do believe this to be a very important
subject. Therefore, I do not want to miss anything, and
contrary to how I normally like to do things, I am going to
read my statement.
The International Union, UAW Auto Workers welcomes the
opportunity to submit comments to the Subcommittee on Higher
Education and Workforce Training. The UAW is one of the largest
and most diverse unions in North America, with members in
virtually every sector of the economy. The UAW has more than 1
million active and retired members in the United States, Canada
and Puerto Rico. From our earliest days, the UAW has been a
leader in the struggle to secure economic and social justice
for all people. We are deeply committed to both higher
education and job growth and development here in the United
This testimony addresses successful union-employer training
programs, ways in which unions find and train employees, the
role of unions in job training, the effects of attacks on
unions, and finally, the importance of serving on Workforce
Investment Act boards and is being submitted solely on behalf
of the UAW and not the joint programs.
Successful union-employer training programs. At General
Motors, the UAW joint partnership has developed many successful
joint training programs. These were developed to ensure that
our customers receive world-class products and services.
Today's world customer demands quality. This not only pertains
to industry, but it also pertains to the way citizens of this
country view the quality of our government. They deserve the
best that our government and GM products and services can
A partnership formed by the UAW and GM has produced that
quality. Many joint training programs such as Quality Network/
General Motors Manufacturing System, GMS, ensure that all best
practices from around the world are used to uniformly produce
high-quality products. A GM vehicle produced in China uses the
same system that a vehicle that is produced in Michigan uses.
This was accomplished by a joint partnership between the UAW
and GM and has spread worldwide. Such a uniform system is where
we have to be in order to compete in a global economy.
Other examples of successful union-employer training
programs are our UAW-GM Apprenticeship Program, Work/Family
Program, Preventive Maintenance, Safety Training, and our
Suggestion Training, which helps reduce costs while increasing
quality throughout the system.
Ways in which unions find and train employees. Unions and
the companies they represent also make apprenticeship programs
available to both employees and people looking for employment.
Trades have played an important part in all aspects of our
labor history and continue to be vital to our workforce. We set
the standard. Non-union trade programs are still far behind
union programs in terms of quality and reliability. Joint
training programs set up by the union and the employer offer
the vast majority of training needed by employees and/or
members in order to be effective in the workplace.
Unions do an excellent job of recognizing potential. If you
show the intuition and strive forward in a particular area, you
will be noticed. Unions are always on the lookout for members
striving to improve and are there to lend a helping hand and
direction in achieving the skill sets needed to advance.
Role of unions in job training. Unions have long been part
of our nation's history in numerous ways, fighting for better
pay, safer working conditions, health care and retirement
benefits, education and civic participation. Unions have
brought diverse voices together, and their struggles have
elevated the working conditions, the standard of living, and
the recognition of not just their members, but of all those who
Unions played a major role in ending sweatshops and the use
of child labor, both of which were so common at the beginning
of the 20th century. The International Ladies' Garment Workers'
Union was one of the first unions to have a primarily female
membership. And in the aftermath of the tragic Triangle
Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, in which more than 100 mostly
young immigrant women were killed, that union was at the
forefront of reforming working conditions and pushing for
comprehensive safety and workers' compensation laws.
Unions are a vital part of our social fabric and economic
future. Unions run the largest career training program in the
United States outside of the military. Union apprenticeship
programs generally partner with employers or industries to
provide the kind of training that hard-wires excellence into
workers and places them in good jobs that can support families.
That is worth a lot when unemployment is stubbornly high and
personal incomes are falling.
[The statement of Mr. Fairbanks follows:]
Prepared Statement of Dan Fairbanks, UAW International Representative,
UAW-GM Skill Development and Training Department
The International Union, United Auto Workers (UAW) welcomes the
opportunity to submit comments to the Subcommittee on Higher Education
and Workforce Training. The UAW is one of the largest and most diverse
unions in North America, with members in virtually every sector of the
economy. The UAW has more than one million active and retired members
in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. From our earliest days,
the UAW has been a leader in the struggle to secure economic and social
justice for all people. We are deeply committed to both higher
education and job growth and development here in the United States.
This testimony addresses successful union-employer training
programs, ways in which unions find and train employees, the role of
unions in job training, the effects of attacks on unions, and finally,
the importance of serving on Workforce Investment Act (WIA) boards and
is being submitted solely on behalf of the UAW and not the joint
Successful union-employer training programs
At General Motors, the UAW-GM joint partnership has developed many
successful joint training programs. These were developed to ensure that
our customers receive world class products and services. Today's world
customer demands quality. This not only pertains to industry, but also
to view of citizens of this country towards the quality of our
government. They deserve the best that our government and GM products
and services can produce.
A partnership formed by the UAW and GM has produced that quality.
Many joint training programs i.e. Quality Network/General Motors
Manufacturing System (GMS) ensure that all best practices from around
the world are used to uniformly produce high quality products. A GM
vehicle produced in China uses the same system that a vehicle in
Michigan uses. This was accomplished by a joint partnership between the
UAW and GM and has spread worldwide. Such a uniform system is where we
have to be in order to compete in a global economy. Other examples of
successful union-employer training programs are our UAW-GM
Apprenticeship Training, Work/Family Program, Preventive Maintenance,
Safety Training and Suggestion Training, which help reduce costs while
increasing quality throughout the system.
Ways in Which Unions Find and Train Employees
Unions and the companies they represent also make apprenticeship
programs available to both employees and people looking for employment.
Trades have played an important part in all aspects of labor history
and continue to be vital to our workforce. We set the standard. Non-
union trade programs are still far behind union programs in terms of
quality and reliability. Joint training programs set up by the union
and the employer offer the vast majority of training needed by
employees and/or members in order to be effective in the workplace.
Unions do an excellent job of recognizing potential. If you show
the intuition to strive forward in a particular area, you will be
noticed. Unions are always on the lookout for members striving to
improve and are there to lend a helping hand and direction in achieving
the skill sets needed to advance.
Role of Unions in Job Training
Unions have long been part of our nation's history in numerous
ways, fighting for better pay, safer working conditions, health care
and retirement benefits, education and civic participation. Unions have
brought diverse voices together, and their struggles have elevated the
working conditions, the standard of living and the recognition of not
just their members, but of all those who labor.
Unions played a major role in ending sweatshops and the use of
child labor, both of which were so common at the beginning of the 20th
century. The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, or ILGWU,
was one of the first unions to have a primarily female membership. And
in the aftermath of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in
1911, in which more than 100 mostly young immigrant women were killed,
the ILGWU was at the forefront of reforming working conditions and
pushing for comprehensive safety and workers' compensation laws.
Unions are a vital part of our social fabric and economic future.
Unions run the largest career training program in the United States
outside of the military. Union apprenticeship programs generally
partner with employers or industries to provide the kind of training
that hard-wires excellence into workers and places them in good jobs
that can support families. That's worth a lot when unemployment is
stubbornly high and personal incomes are falling.
Effect of Attacks on Unions
Unions are just normal folks--people who come together to improve
their lives and their workplaces, because they recognize there's
strength in numbers. The one thing that some of public does know is
that union members, thanks to collective bargaining, have higher wages
and better benefits. But union membership actually raises living and
working standards for all working men and women--both union and non-
The truth is that unions work side by side with companies to expand
the scope of their technological advancements and profit margins. The
public hears about attacks on unions and becomes wary about investing
or buying products or services from companies with union
representation. Unfortunately this serves to be a self-fulfilling
prophecy, which in turn affects the profit margin of these companies.
That produces a negative effect on our production and service industry
in our state and country.
Pride in what one does or produces is important to everyone. The
attacks on unions affect workers and manifest conflict within them.
Union members know that they produce quality products and services in
an economically efficient manner. But, if the public has a negative
opinion of your work standards, it impacts the greater workforce in a
non-positive way. Everyone takes pride in the fruits of their labor and
human nature craves that others recognize the trueness and quality of
that work, and it is detrimental when that is not recognized.
When union membership rates are high, so is the share of income
that goes to the middle class. When those rates fall, income inequality
grows--the middle class shrinks and the 1% gets richer. Collective
bargaining affects more than wages and benefits. Union teachers bargain
for smaller class sizes. Union nurses bargain for better patient care.
Working together, union members and their community allies also
make up a powerful lobby for the common good. They've helped secure for
us all the eight-hour day, job safety laws, overtime pay, Medicare and
Social Security, civil rights protections, fair treatment for women and
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers and much more.
These are some of the reasons even people who don't fit the typical
stereotypes of union members have recognized the power and importance
of forming unions. Examples include carwash workers in LA, professional
athletes, writers and directors for TV shows, just to name a few. Go to
a movie and you're enjoying the work of one of America's most unionized
industries, from the actors and camera crews to set designers.
Effect of Taking Unions off Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Boards
Recently, H.R. 803, the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong
Skills (SKILLS) Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives and we
raised significant concerns about this legislation and the detrimental
impact it would have on several programs that are vital to working
families. The bill failed to take into account labor's leading role in
workforce training. As previously stated, the labor movement is the
largest workforce trainer of adults outside the U.S. military.
Regrettably, the SKILLS Act categorically excludes labor participation
in state and local workforce investment boards. The bill failed to take
into account labor's leading role in workforce training and the
discounts the value that workers bring to workforce investment boards.
The purpose of the Workforce Investment Act, (WIA) is to provide
workforce investment activities that increase the employment, retention
and earnings of participants and increase occupational skill attainment
by participants, which will improve the quality of the workplace,
reduce welfare dependency and enhance the productivity and
competitiveness of the economy. We only grow and improve when we work
together. We may not agree all of the time, but through collaboration
comes a new and better way of doing things. The effects of the board
becoming a one way only philosophy will lend itself to limiting the
success of the objectives.
We also oppose giving governors the authority, without state
legislative review, to consolidate the funding and administration of
Workforce Investment Act and numerous other programs. Giving governors
the discretion to decide who would receive services and what kind of
services they receive does not encourage these decisions to be based on
legitimate workforce needs but on political convenience and ideology.
Handing such authority over to governors would likely create scenarios
where workforce services would vary greatly from state to state as well
as the funding levels of programs within that state, solely based on
whoever holds political power.
The SKILLS act would eliminate the Wagner-Peyser program and we are
greatly concerned with the impact this will have on undermining the
existing Unemployment Insurance (UI) system. The Wagner-Peyser staff
conducts the UI ``work test,'' an eligibility requirement that requires
UI claimants to be actively seeking work in order to receive UI
benefits. H.R. 803 instead assigns responsibility for the work test and
reemployment services for UI claimants to local workforce boards. The
loss of accountability and state control resulting from this change
would lead the unemployed to remain out of work longer, draw state and
federal unemployment benefits for a longer period of time, and thereby
undermine the state UI trust funds.
In short, we believe that labor brings a strong voice to jobs
training programs and our ability to have our voices heard helps
America's workers. We are deeply committed to ensuring that ALL workers
have the opportunity to find good paying jobs.
In closing, thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony to
the Committee on Education and Workforce, of the U.S. House of
Representatives Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce.
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you, Mr. Fairbanks. I appreciate
very much your remarks.
I now would like to recognize my colleague, since we are in
his district, to begin the questioning of the panel members.
Thank you all again very much.
Mr. Walberg. I thank the chairwoman for that opportunity.
I shouldn't have looked at it. You could have left it going
without timing. Sue, I don't know how you got away with that.
Mr. Fairbanks, let me just ask you a question. Being a
subcommittee chair myself for the Workforce Protections
Subcommittee on the Education and Workforce Committee, which
deals with those areas that I think you addressed to some
degree, and the safety factors that have been built in, job
security opportunities for the employees specifically, I think
unions have provided some significant incentives to make sure
that our workplaces are safe.
But what I wanted to specifically ask you is what specific
incentives are being used by the UAW to encourage ongoing
worker development, not only those that are outside of the
workforce now but those that are in, the incentives that
encourage them to constantly upgrade their skills?
Mr. Fairbanks. Well, quite frankly, our incentive is
survival. With the auto industry coming out of, the Big Three
coming out of what they just came out of, we have worked
together with General Motors, Ford, Chrysler in instituting the
programs that we already have in place, such as the ones I have
mentioned, and also in doing research in new programs that we
can jointly do together so the companies that we do work for
can survive and prosper, because when they profit, everybody
profits. So that is our incentive, to make sure that those
companies do well. Therefore, when they do well, we do well.
Mr. Walberg. Do the employees feel those incentives?
Mr. Fairbanks. Oh, very much so.
Mr. Walberg. And then I guess what I am asking is, is there
any additional incentive other than survival that you encourage
employees with to continue upgrading their skills?
Mr. Fairbanks. Well, sure, definitely. We spoke briefly
about our apprenticeship program. If you are a person that is
coming in and working the assembly line, you are at one rate.
One way to increase your pay is to get into the apprenticeship
program and move up. There is also another way. If you are
working the assembly line and you want to increase your pay and
your level, you can become a team leader. To do that, there is
training available to do that. It used to be just by seniority,
but now it is a combination of seniority and skill levels.
So there are incentives as far as monetary incentives to
increase your training. Plus, there is that desire that is out
there in everybody to increase your education. I think that is
out there with everybody. Just because you went into an auto
factory doesn't mean that went away.
Mr. Walberg. Good, good.
Ms. Dowler, I had the privilege of touring Fermi last week,
in fact, and you are absolutely right. You just don't take a
person off the street and have them attend to a nuclear power
plant. It takes significant training. It's amazing the hours,
the months of training the person has to go through.
If you had to pass along advice to other institutions of
higher education--I know you worked with Monroe Community
College significantly on that area. But if you had to pass
along advice within this state for higher education
institutions about how they should work with other employers,
what would that advice be?
Ms. Dowler. My advice to other institutions would be to
bring together your major employers, and minor employers. Small
businesses may have to niche markets that they need to hear
about as well. But bring together your major employers and have
real consortium type conversations around what their needs are
now and what their skill gap and talent needs may be in the
future, and keep an ongoing conversation going.
I think it is important for not only the institution to
understand what the businesses and industries need, but it is
important for the businesses and industries to understand what
the universities are undergoing as well. It is really a
partnership. It goes both ways. We are going through
environmental regulations that are challenging us, and we have
different things going on in our utility. It is important for
our college to understand what some of our challenges are.
So creating a partnership between your major industries
that create real relationships I think starts to bridge that.
Mr. Walberg. Ms. Smith, can you describe how employers or
what employers are looking for in current college graduates?
Ms. Smith. Current college graduates? Depending on what
field they are coming out of college with, they want people who
are willing to come on the job and work side-by-side with other
people. They want them willing to continue to grow and to
become part of a family. In Hillsdale, and I don't know if that
is unique to Hillsdale, there is still pretty much a social
contract with the employer and the employee. When they hire
people and bring them in, they bring them in because they want
them there and they want them to be a long-term employee for
them. So they are just looking for people who have that will to
continue learning and to do a good job.
Mr. Walberg. I see my time has expired. I look forward to
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you very much.
Ms. Dowler, to follow up a little bit on the last comments
that you were making from Congressman Walberg, if you had to
pass along advice to other institutions of higher education
within the state about how they should work with other
employers, what would you advise them to do?
Ms. Dowler. Okay. So, in addition to asking them about what
their needs are and what their skill gaps are, I think another
key parameter would be, for the universities, is to share what
they learn among other universities. So it is not enough for
DTE to work with Monroe Community College and share our skill
gaps and our needs with them, but it is important for Monroe
Community College then to share that across their peers, their
peer universities. So I think that is a critical element of the
process, to partner across all of the elements, breadth and
depth in sharing the workforce and talent requirements.
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you.
Ms. Dowler. I guess the other thing I would also add is
helping to integrate us into the curriculum build I think is
also paramount. What are you teaching? Let us help you in that
curriculum build I think is also paramount.
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you.
Ms. Smith, would you talk about how you are working to
recruit new businesses to Hillsdale County? How are you
presenting what is going on here to new businesses who may be
considering coming here?
Ms. Smith. Okay. Actually, right now, the State of Michigan
has an initiative, and they try to combine the different
counties together. I am part of Region 9, which is Hillsdale,
Lenawee, Livingston, Washtenaw, Monroe County, and Jackson. We
are working together on marketing to talk about the different
assets that we have. We are all very different communities and
have different things to offer. So as a package, we can do just
about anything anybody needs in this country or overseas in
So we are working as a large group of six counties to put
together information and try to attract people and help them
understand that Michigan is a great place to do business, and
we have the skill, the talent, and we can transport things, we
can engineer. We are good, and we are selling who we are.
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you very much.
Ms. Dowler, you mentioned, and Ms. Smith mentioned also,
the issue of soft skills. I picked up on that issue with you,
Ms. Smith. But, Ms. Dowler, I appreciated the fact that you
talk about skills, education and training, because they are
distinct areas. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about
the soft skills that you all are looking for. Again, Ms. Smith
also referred to that.
Ms. Dowler. Right. So, let me talk a little bit about some
of the things that we do with universities to help kind of
bring new employees in. We bring about 350 students, summer
students and coops into our company every year to get them
acclimated to the business world and the industry. Part of that
process really gives them an opportunity to learn and grow, and
that is their opportunity to learn and grow and our opportunity
to groom them and coach them and teach them. We feel like as a
corporation that is invested in our communities and in helping
the students, we have an obligation to coach them, and we give
them feedback throughout that process.
So every year there are 250 to 300 students that come from
across the universities in the State of Michigan that learn not
only hard skills but soft skills. Like you mentioned, if they
are not in on time, not dressing appropriately, how do you give
a presentation effectively, right? All of those things, that
gets to the soft skills piece. We also have in the hiring
process behavior assessments and all those kinds of things
which I won't get into. But I would really speak to the student
coop program, which would get right connected through our
recruiting process with the colleges that I think is a
wonderful way to help coach, teach, and mentor young people
into the business.
Chairwoman Foxx. Congressman Walberg?
Mr. Walberg. Thank you. Commissioner Lievens, let me ask
you, in relationship to what the county government is doing in
developing workforce, what efforts is the local government
taking to help ensure the citizens of Monroe County are
prepared for the shifts in the local economy? I think there
have been a few in the past recent history.
Mr. Lievens. One thing the county is doing through its
planning department is looking for one-stop shops to bring
together employers with educational institutions. That way,
folks don't have to look around to afford their resources.
Interestingly enough, one of the recent reports made on behalf
of our county planning department was just this issue that is
coming up time and again in our field hearing regarding the
soft skills, and that was something of a surprise to me a
couple of years ago, because you have that expectation out of
your educational institution. You are ready to find your
position in whatever employment sector you went to school for.
But beyond the basic writing, math and reading skills, students
need to acquire the skills related to the work ethic, financial
literacy, resume writing, application filing, problem solving,
teamwork, flexibility and communication skills.
I meet a number of folks that have applied for jobs that
afterward, in speaking with them, they had the skills, they had
the talents and ability, but they need to translate those into
a resume, into the creativity of looking for that application.
And then we hear about being timely, what is appropriate to
wear. One of the things the county is doing is putting those
resources together and feeding that to the education sector, to
the employers and the like.
Mr. Walberg. Why do you believe it is absolutely necessary
to have a partnership between employers and post-secondary
Mr. Lievens. To help connect those. There is a lot of
discussion out there about synergy. It is about bringing
together your partners to open those lines of communication
because no man is an island. We are all in this together.
Mr. Walberg. Can the government get in the way of that?
Mr. Lievens. Absolutely.
Mr. Walberg. How?
Mr. Lievens. By creating too much regulation, too much red
tape, and that was one of the things mentioned here before.
Government should be a partner, but it shouldn't be the
Mr. Walberg. Does industry come to you and tell you the
hard, cold facts about maybe some of those challenges that are
in place through no intention necessarily but is actually
Mr. Lievens. Certainly, through some of the things,
especially here in the county, we need to be a little bit more
open-minded and creative about is attracting businesses by
eliminating certain land-use restrictions and the rest, to
promote an open business environment.
Mr. Walberg. I would ask you the same question, Ms. Smith.
Since you work kind of in the center land between the employer
and the government agency, what challenges do you face with the
government agency there in Hillsdale County, which has been hit
significantly with the downturn in the economy?
Ms. Smith. Yes. I mean, we were at 18 percent in 2009,
unemployment. So it was devastating.
Mr. Walberg. You are still at about 11 percent, aren't you?
Ms. Smith. We are at 10, 10.1, I think, right now. But that
is still outrageously high unemployment.
You know, it is just programs that go into effect need to
be a little more flexible for our employers. There can't be a
lot of restrictions as far as if the person makes a living
wage, they can't get any assistance and training. We are trying
very diligently to bring our students from the schools and
retain them locally, so we need to be able to train them
locally. We work with the Academy for Manufacturing Careers. We
are still a very heavily manufacturing community, as well as
agricultural. But sometimes it is just very hard to use the
dollars that are available because of the criteria attached to
them, and I understand the need to track so that there is not
abuse of money. That has happened, obviously. But there is a
medium that we really need to hit.
Mr. Walberg. Right, right.
Ms. Dowler, again, going directly to you in the final few
seconds that I have here, do you find your employees taking
advantage of the job training programs that are out there that
you introduce them to? Are they aggressive in taking advantage
of that? Are they seeking it, or are they being pushed?
Ms. Dowler. It is interesting. I actually asked for some
data to bring in here relative to educational reimbursement. We
have a big educational reimbursement program in our company. I
did not get the data quick enough to bring in here, but what I
would tell you is every semester, every year employees take
advantage of community college and higher education to get
associate's, bachelor's, master's degrees throughout the
company so they can advance themselves and advance their
careers to make themselves better and to make the corporation
better and stronger. So, yes, absolutely.
Mr. Walberg. That is encouraging.
Madam Chairman, it is more discouraging to know the
disincentives we give in the government bureaucracy, and your
bill goes a long way in addressing the redundancies, the
burdens of having multiple layers of overlapping job-training
programs that really are making it more difficult for Ms. Smith
and Ms. Dowler in getting people into a place of employment.
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you, Mr. Walberg. I wasn't going to
be self-serving too much in talking about bringing up what Ms.
Smith brought up, but I do appreciate your mentioning the
issue. We call them silos, where money is appropriated but
people aren't able to take advantage of it even though they
need it because they don't fit the exact criteria.
I think we have some information on the SKILLS Act here, if
people are interested in doing that. Thank you.
I would like to ask Mr. Lievens if you would discuss a
little bit the role of the local Workforce Investment Boards
and how they play a role in job placement and job development
Mr. Lievens. The county currently has several different
investment boards. We have Michigan Works. That is one
organization that helps pool together local talent and connect
those with the employers by providing a resume bank, helping to
train the soft skills. So that is one area that the county is
growing that I see a lot of good results from.
I think another thing to touch on, something that was
mentioned earlier, that Michigan is known for its
manufacturing, but I see that there are layers in
manufacturing. There is manufacturing, and there is advanced
No one is asking for dollars to help develop the buggy whip
industry. I think of that as manufacturing that has since
passed its day. But we have new advanced manufacturing that is
really shooting the moon. We have Ben Tower doing advanced
welding to take advantage of some of these new green
industries, and that is something that I think dollars should
be targeted to these emerging sectors of the economy and
retaining the existing employers. I know the college has
recently embarked on some grant funding for incubators. I
support that, and that is necessary, but we need to really look
at who is here and doing well, and that is one of the things
the county is keen on and has documented and has offered as a
resource for people to look into.
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you very much.
I wanted to ask Ms. Smith, can you talk a little bit more--
again, you mentioned in your comments and in a question, a
follow-up question that Mr. Walberg asked, but I don't think it
is too much to emphasize again, what is it that employers are
looking for in the current college graduates that are coming
out? Because I think the audience here needs to hear that over
and over again, and hopefully the audience of college folks who
are here also. Talk a little bit more, if you would, about the
kind of attributes that a college graduate needs to have these
Ms. Smith. Well, I could give you a really good example. I
was at the governor's economic development conference in
Detroit, and there was a young lady there from Hillsdale
College, and she was a marketing student. They had 20 students
that were brought in to kind of sell themselves because there
were a lot of employers there that would give them an
opportunity. And this young lady was outstanding in several
ways, and I think that is why one of the companies from
Hillsdale picked her up. Not picked her up, tried to engage
Mr. Walberg. Picked her out.
Ms. Smith. Yes. She was very confident in her presentation.
She carried herself very well. She was very articulate. She was
very driven and not afraid to talk about the fact that she has
a very good skill set. They are looking for someone in the
marketing arena. So she spent one evening looking at who the
company was and what they were doing, because when I talked to
her, I understood after talking to her that she was probably a
very good match for one of our Hillsdale companies that was
So when you talk to young people and they have that, they
make that connection, they look you in the eye, they are just
there in the present tense, it makes a big impression with
employers because they want somebody who is not going to come
in and run the company but who is going to be able to hold
their own and do a good job for them.
Chairwoman Foxx. So she not only had the skills, but she
could show that she had the skills.
Ms. Smith. Yes, yes.
Chairwoman Foxx. Okay. Thank you very much.
Mr. Walberg. Boy, I like these field hearings. More
questions to finish off.
Let me go back. Ms. Dowler, you made an interesting
statement about getting in on the ground floor, working with
community colleges or educational institutions on the
curriculum build. That's a term that I think expresses an awful
lot that I had not heard before, curriculum build. In the case
of Monroe County Community College, how do you work with them
to ensure that they continue to provide high-skilled graduates
that meet your hiring needs in context with that curriculum
Ms. Dowler. So let me speak about just a couple of
examples. Our nuclear engineering technology program that
ultimately ends up with an applied sciences associate's degree
has several of the adjunct professors that are also employees
of DTE Energy. So the DTE Energy employees work at the plant,
the nuclear division, every single day. They are also adjunct
professors that teach several classes within the nuclear
engineering technology program. So clearly, they are very, very
involved in the curriculum, teaching the curriculum. They get
to know the students. They get to know the capabilities of the
I also mentioned that coop program in the summer student
program. Some of those very students that those professors
teach end up coming in and being summer students at the nuclear
power plant so they get some of that real-life experience at
the power plant. So that would be an example, that would be a
real, full-cycle example of how they are involved in that
curriculum. I could give other examples, but that is probably
the most succinct example. That is an accredited program within
Mr. Walberg. But as you say that, that is a comprehensive
working relationship. How many schools and universities and
training centers can you do that with?
Ms. Dowler. So, I mean, we have adjunct professors on staff
at Oakland Community College. We have several relationships
with several colleges across the state. I can't say that it is
every college, but several colleges.
Mr. Walberg. Where it makes sense.
Ms. Dowler. Where it makes sense, right. Ferris State, for
example, we have great employment up in that area, so we have
great partnership with Ferris State as an example.
Mr. Walberg. Thank you.
Mr. Fairbanks, let me ask you if you could just give us
some insight on what challenge the UAW faces with what is seen
as government disincentives to producing job opportunities, to
assisting the UAW in the training programs, in providing the
jobs to train for.
Mr. Fairbanks. Could you please explain a little bit
Mr. Walberg. Well, I guess what you perceive as
disincentives to the UAW membership growing, but more
specifically jobs, so that your union employees or membership
could have employment in a growing way, in a growing economy
here in Michigan specifically. But are there any government
disincentives, red tape, bureaucratic overhead, whatever, that
gives you acid indigestion as you attempt to provide jobs and
train workers in those jobs?
Mr. Fairbanks. To speak to that, offhand I really don't see
any disincentives as far as education. This was spoken about
earlier, about programs within companies to pay for employees
going back to school. We have a tuition assistance program that
the UAW and GM have put together. That does run into millions
of dollars a year, into that program.
Back to what you were saying, we do believe there needs to
be some levels looked upon as far as how these funds are
allocated. In other words, we do not agree that funds are
allocated directly to the governor of the state, and the
governor of the state says, okay, we need these funds here, we
need these funds here, we think that is the best place to go.
We do believe these boards serve a very important purpose.
They are the ones closest to what is happening. We agree
totally that they need to be there. What we are trying to
emphasize is you need a diverse group of people on there using
their joint partnerships with companies. Like I said before,
they are one of the largest entities in being able to educate
their employees and their members. Therefore, we do believe
that the workers need a voice on those boards, and that is the
main emphasis that we wanted to come out with is let's keep the
power with these boards. They know what they are doing. They
are right there on the front lines. Let's keep it there.
Mr. Walberg. Thank you.
Chairwoman Foxx. Well, thank you all very much for coming
today and for the valuable testimony that you have given us.
Again, I want to thank you for taking time out of your
schedules to be here.
We're going to bring up the second panel now, so we will
excuse you with our deep appreciation.
Now you all have had a chance to see how the first panel
did, right? It is my pleasure now to introduce our
distinguished second panel of witnesses.
Dr. David Nixon, currently serving his 10th year as
President of Monroe County Community College. Prior to coming
to MCCC, he served as Executive Dean of Iowa Lakes Community
College in Estherville, Iowa, where he served as the Chief
Administrative Officer of the Emmetsburg campus.
Ms. Sherry Betz currently serves as the Southeast Regional
Director of the College for Professional Studies for Siena
Heights University. While at Siena Heights, Ms. Betz has had
the opportunity to present at the Trends in Occupational
Studies conference, where she discussed the needs for
articulation agreements and how institutions benefit from these
types of partnerships.
Dr. Michelle Shields serves as a career coach, as well as
the Workforce Development Director for Jackson Community
College. Dr. Shields handles career coaching for students, sets
up internships with local employers, and handles employers'
requests to match qualified graduates with their needs.
Mr. Douglas Levy is the Director of Financial Aid at Macomb
Community College, Michigan's largest community college. Prior
to joining Macomb in early 2011, Mr. Levy spent the prior 21
years in various higher education leadership positions at the
University of Michigan.
Again, let me briefly explain our lighting system. You will
each have 5 minutes to present your testimony. When you begin,
the light in front of you will turn green. When 1 minute is
left, the light will turn yellow, and when your time has
expired the light will turn red, at which point I would ask
that you wrap up your remarks as best as you can. After
everyone has testified, members will each have 5 minutes to ask
questions of the panel.
Now I will recognize Dr. David Nixon for 5 minutes.
STATEMENT OF DAVID E. NIXON, PRESIDENT,
MONROE COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Mr. Nixon. Thank you very much. Thank you, Chairwoman Foxx.
I wanted first of all to welcome you on behalf of our faculty
and our staff and our elected trustees, and I think at least
one of our elected trustees has been here this morning to
welcome you. I mention that because they are all elected. They
get no pay for that job. They are great trustees because they
are involved in the community as well, and you will see why
that is important.
As the President of Monroe County Community College, I
would like to point out two of our major supporters here in
this community that were here long before yours truly, and that
is La-Z-Boy Furniture and Monroe Shock Absorbers. So you can
see why manufacturing is in our DNA. We always like to say when
we are visiting other parts of the country, we are the county
that rocks, La-Z-Boy, and shocks, Monroe Shock Absorbers. But
those people, or at least the people that came with Monroe
Shock Absorbers, are still contributing to this community in
many ways, because our biggest challenge is the value of higher
This has been a community where it was easy to get a job at
age 16. If you could get a driver's license, you could probably
get a job. Times have changed, and I am really impressed by the
witnesses that have come before me with the comments that they
This college is 50 years old, still one of the lowest
tuition rates in the region. It is mission driven, and our
mission is enriching lives through higher education. Monroe
County Community College is nationally accredited in higher
education, and our growth in enrollment over the past several
years came to us because of the Great Recession, for the most
part, but because a lot of the students wanted to improve their
Living within our means has become a practice because the
state's funds have dwindled and, as you know, we rely a great
deal on the state funds here in the State of Michigan. But the
truth be known is that the tuition, the money the students pay
for their tuition is a greater portion of our annual budget
than our appropriations from the State of Michigan. That is
just the way the formula works out.
So in that regard, the largest revenues for the college is
the local taxpayer. At one time, 60 percent of our annual
budget came from the local taxpayers, but in recent times that
has dwindled to a little less than 50 percent. So in learning
how to live within our means, we have found the value of
partnering with private partnerships and others to be able to
sustain the college and offer higher education.
By the way, we have 9,000 students annually; 4,500 of those
are credit students in certificate programs. The rest of
those--and about the average age of our student is 25, with
about a third of our students ranging in age up to 30.
More than 70 percent of our students work outside the
college. So we have a lot of students that are going to college
and working, some of them working full time. Half of the
students qualify for some kind of financial aid. Thirty-seven
percent of the college students here receive Pell Grants
totaling $6 million this last year. We are a great advocate of
Pell Grants. We don't like some of the things that happen when
some of the students bail out after they get the money, and we
may get a chance to talk about that later.
Our default rate, by the way, last year was 2.2 percent,
which isn't bad, but we have to write a check for $240,000.
Of the entire student population, 43 percent of the
students receive some type of Title IV financial aid, either
the Pell, the Stafford loans, or work study. But I need to
point out that because of our involvement in the community and
our private partners, this college generated $500,000 in
scholarships, our local scholarships, last year to supplement
So if we are working on those limited resources, how do we
move ahead with these programs we have discussed and some of
the witnesses discussed earlier? How do we train the 21st
century workforce? It is the combination of public/private
dollars. The likes of a $17 million Career Technology Center
currently in construction on the campus you may have seen as
you came in this morning, that is all about high-skilled
workers for high-paid jobs.
Nuclear tech is one of the premiere programs, and if it had
not been for DTE Energy and that partnership, it would not have
In addition, we partnered with a community college in Ohio
at the early start of that to be able to deliver those
So it was combining curriculum with curriculum experts with
what we call the content experts. Those are the professionals
at the nuclear power plant that are on our campus, in our labs,
helping us teach those students.
We have done the same thing with wind construction, 3-D
computer-assisted drafting and design, robotics, auto
engineering, auto tech. But probably the best example of a
partnership with the federal government that benefitted this
entire area was the successful competition for a Department of
Labor grant for $1.7 million to establish a welding center of
expertise on this campus.
Five years ago we were charged with turning out 240
certified welders. Well, when the program concluded--by the
way, we haven't concluded. We are still teaching welding. But
when the grant program ended, we had actually certified 260
welders, and as we move on we will continue to certify more
because there are 100 jobs open yet today in welding within
this driving distance.
Similarly, 10 years ago there was a need for an
Instructional Center for Business Training and Performing Arts.
That was 10 years ago. And how did we do that? With public/
private dollars, a capital campaign that created a $12 million
La-Z-Boy Center, as you may have seen when you came in.
Still, we have a shortage of welders. We still have the
shortage of welders. We have a shortage of nuclear techs, as
you heard from a witness previously, Ms. Dowler, by the way who
is not only on our foundation at the college but is one of our
experts. We have 200 professionals from the communities that
belong to our advisory committees. They are the ones that meet
regularly on campus and tell us what kind of curriculum that we
need to have. We could not operate without them.
Our other partners, some of whom will be represented here
in the witnesses, we have private colleges or private college
partners on our campus producing 4-year degrees for our
students who can live here in Monroe County and earn a 4-year
degree, Siena Heights, and with that opportunity or that
partnership Siena Heights not only has experts on campus but
they also allow the community college students to continue in
the third year of that program at our community college
The Eastern Michigan University is on our campus. They are
providing a BSN in nursing. Nursing is one of our strongest
programs. We have a number of developments in that regard, but
I needed to say that it was EMU that came to this campus and
said that they would be able to deliver the 4-year degree in
I am going to conclude my testimony, Chairwoman Foxx, but I
wanted to mention before I conclude that the students that you
saw when you came in this morning, that is another wonderful
program, a federal program, the Upward Bound program, part of a
trio of programs. We were renewed, and those of you in Congress
know the battle that went on for the renewal of that program.
We were renewed for not only another five years at the high
school in this community, but we were able to add a second high
school. These are students who were at risk of never going to
college. They are first-generation students, and they come to
this college and participate in our activities in tutoring as a
freshman in high school.
So thank you for the time, and I will leave a copy of more
details in my script. Thank you.
[The statement of Mr. Nixon follows:]
Prepared Statement of David E. Nixon, Ed.D., President,
Monroe County Community College
Good morning Chairwoman Foxx, and members of the Subcommittee: I am
David E. Nixon. I am the president of Monroe County Community College,
and I would first like to welcome you to the campus in Monroe County,
Michigan (Pop >200,000); the home of La-Z-Boy Furniture and Monroe
Shock Absorbers. Manufacturing is in our DNA.
The college is 50 years old and still affordable * * *
with one of the lowest tuition rates in the region.
Monroe County Community College is a nationally accredited
institution of Higher Education with Record growth in enrollment until
last year when enrollment declined 5-to-8% across the state.
Funding challenges existed even with record enrollment
which produces less than 30% of our annual budget. State appropriations
are less than the tuition (12%)--challenged by dwindling state funding.
Largest revenue stream for MCCC is a local tax for this district
(originally 60% reduced in the Recession to less than 50%)
Regardless the faculty/staff and Trustees engaged in public/private
partnerships to provide quality learning opportunities through the use
of a variety of strategies.
9,000 students a year (4500 students in credit programs)
and the remaining in certificate training programs associated with
workforce development. The average age of our students is 25 which
means the larger group of students is over age 21. A third of students
range in age from 21 to 30. Others range up to age 50, but it is not
uncommon for graduates at age 60.
More than 70% students work outside the college and attend
school part time. Only 36% attend classes' full time.
Half of them qualify for some kind of financial aid
(federal, state, and institutional funds) approximately 37% of MCCC
students receive Pell Grants. Of the entire student population 43% of
our students receive some type of Title IV financial aid (Pell,
Stafford Loans, and Work Study)
HOW TO POWER THE 21st CENTURY WORKFORCE? Partnerships * * * Public/
private dollars * * * with the likes of a $17 million dollar Career
Technology Center producing high skilled workers for high skilled jobs.
Opening this fall, state-of-the-art labs for nuclear tech, Solar, Wind,
Construction, 3-D computer assisted drafting and design, computerized
CNC operation, metrology (non-destruct-testing), Robotics, auto
engineering and auto technicians, in addition to the celebrated Welding
Center for Expertise all under one roof--serving as a proud example of
public/private partnerships. The local capital campaign that has
already resulted in an 86% commitment which includes the state, the
college, and private donations from small and large businesses. Opens
Similarly, 10 years ago, a similar Public/Private collaboration
resulted in the construction of a $12 million Instruction Center for
Business Training and Performing arts--again a mix of public/private
dollars with the largest single gift of $2 million from La-Z-Boy Inc.
for the naming rights. The state's investment leverages private
investors. The community wins.
Why all of this activity? It is still all about jobs. And it's
about jobs that keep students here in the county to make their homes
and raise families.
It's well-known that there is a worker shortage in Michigan,
especially a shortage of those who possess high skills for high paid
jobs--documented by the Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN)---A
consortium of eight community colleges in southeast Michigan in a
collaboration with seven Michigan Works Agencies.
A shortage of welders MCCC COMPETED FOR a $1.7 million Department
of Labor grant for training/certifying 240 welders over a five-year
period. At the end of the five year, 260 welders had been certified and
the current need is for 100 more. The grant funded scholarships
directly to MCCC without a cumbersome pass-through funding system as
with other workforce training funds. The Welding student tuition was
funded direct from the DOL grant managed by the college allowing
certificate short term certificate training. There are still 100 job
openings for high skilled welders.
A shortage of Nuclear Techs led to the creation of a nuclear tech
program to serve the needs of DTE Energy, the largest employer in the
county operates one nuclear plant * * * in the application for an
additional nuclear plant right next to the current plant. MCCC
responded with a Nuclear Tech training program in 5 YRS ago graduating
more than 50 technicians completing since then.
Where do we get our expert advice?
ADVISORY COMMITTEES * * * More than 200 community members and
``content experts'' working professionals from the jobs-community meet
every semester or more with faculty leadership. Those ``content
experts'' help us keep those programs in ``state-of-the-art'' delivery
mode AND to solicit partnerships for student scholarships or technology
Meanwhile four-year degree ``partnerships'' on campus offer
baccalaureate degree opportunities in nursing, business, accounting,
and early childhood education.
Sienna Heights University (four year private) delivers
classes on our campus--allows MCCC students to take Sienna Heights
classes on campus at MCCC's lower tuition rates.
Eastern Michigan University offers a Bachelor of Science
in Nursing on campus--attracting graduates from MCCC's high quality
The most unique public/private partnership developed when
MCCC and a local bank led the development of an outreach project to
offer GED preparation for hundreds of county residents who are barred
from higher education opportunities at the college for lack of a high
school diploma. The bank provided the facilities and along with eight
other community partners has managed to keep the facility open.
In conclusion? Partnerships are driving ``higher education
opportunities'' at Monroe County Community College with the ``focus''
on student outcomes. What improvements could be made?--a more direct,
less bureaucratized financial aid pathway to students like DOL Welding
What's needed? * * * policies that give institutions more
flexibility counseling and safeguards to ensure students understand
their loan obligations, are academically prepared, and are able to keep
loan borrowing in check. And to prevent ``over borrowing.'' We are
prohibited from requiring additional loan counseling for students who
appear to be over-borrowing or who are most at risk of defaulting.
I appreciate this opportunity to speak before members of Chairwoman
Fox' Subcommittee on behalf of students whose lives can be enriched by
gaining the high skills for high pay jobs.
As a result, as Jim Clifton points out in The Coming Jobs War
(2011), it's all about'' making stuff'' and the more we make/
manufacture, the stronger the country through gross domestic product.
MCCC's goal is to provide opportunities for our students to learn the
skills needed for the high paying jobs.
Thank you for allowing me the time on behalf of Monroe County
Pell grant funding is essential for qualified students--but better
control can be maintained if community colleges are allowed to
participating in the development of new guidelines. (more detailed
suggested at the end of this report).
There are numerous NON CEDIT TYPE WORK RELEATED certificate type
accelerated programs, typically a few weeks in length (the shorter than
one-or-two year programs) the kind that lead to some of the high paid
jobs ``sooner than later.'' Many do not qualify for workforce programs.
One of them was a nine-week certificate program for Ophthalmic
Assistants (entry level for Ophthalmologists). Students attended full
time with few scholarships. More than 50 students have been placed.
The shortage of high skilled machinists in Michigan is the worst in
The biggest bang for the buck is the funding directed to the
students like the Welding Grant or GI Bill, rather than funding
A barrier for many students are requirements that they need to
attend school full time to get the tuition assistance as was the case
in the recent Michigan Works administered program called No Worker Left
Behind--or those Veterans on the GI Bill. Some have been denied because
the need for earning a living while going to school prevents them from
leaving current jobs * * * even though they may be low paid-low skill
jobs. Our goal is to help them gain higher skills for higher pay.
Based on our experience here at Monroe County Community College and
visiting with our enrollment managers who process those students--my
recommendation to the Subcommittee in re-writing Higher Education Act
legislation is find ways to award students funding that accommodates
their class schedule rather than tuition tied to a ``semester''
Many need to work part time to support their family while enrolled
in the Career Programs. The GI VRAP program requires full-time
attendance for 10 month which challenges students who need to work
while attending school.
The demands for high skills prompted a partnership with local high
schools--reaching down into the high schools--bringing the high school
students to campus for combined college credit and high school credit--
supported by tax dollars already committed by the state for their high
school education. (known as dual enrollment) or (early college). The
talent for tomorrow--is in high school today.
MORE ON PELL GRANT CONTROLS
More detailed suggestions about Pell Control come from MCCC's
Director of Financial Aid Valerie Culler who provided the following
that the subcommittee members may wish to consider.
The primary control that financial aid administrators have been
advocating for years for the federal government to put into place is a
national tracking system for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). One
of the requirements for financial aid offices in administering Title IV
funds is the monitoring of students' academic progress. All schools are
required to monitor the same standards for Title IV aid:
Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0
Students must complete 67% of their overall attempted
Students will lose Title IV aid eligibility once they have
attempted more than 150% of the credits required to complete their
program of study
All of these SAP standards are in place to make sure that students
who are receiving Title IV aid are on pace to complete a degree program
timely. While all schools are required to monitor the same standards,
the determination of a student's eligibility for Title IV aid is based
only on the student's SAP status at the school the student is currently
attending. The student's SAP status at a school the student previously
attended is not is a factor. What happens now is that when a student is
denied Title IV aid at one community college due to failing to meet SAP
standards, the student can transfer to another community college and
begin with a ``clean slate'' and receive federal aid again. For
example, if a student has failed classes at the University of Toledo
and Owens Community College and no longer qualifies to receive Title IV
aid at those schools, I cannot deny that student Title IV aid at MCCC
based on his/her SAP status at UT or OCC. This allows students to
``swirl'' from community college to community college and continue to
receive Title IV aid, even when the student has not demonstrated
academic progress at any of the schools.
The U.S. Department of Education already has systems in place that
track students' entire history of Title IV aid usage. While there would
be some programming involved in creating a national tracking system for
Satisfactory Academic Progress, I'm sure much of the functionality
already exists, and because schools are already held to monitoring the
same standards for SAP for Title IV eligibility, the implementation of
a national tracking system would not be that much of an administrative
burden on financial aid offices.
While the U.S. Department of Education has taken a step for 2013/14
by flagging students who have receive Pell Grant funds at three or more
institutions within the past two or three years, this practice still
gives students an opportunity to ``jump'' between multiple schools and
receive a significant amount of Title IV aid before they are caught. A
national tracking system for SAP would allow us to catch these students
much earlier and hence lessen the abuse of Title IV aid. It is also
important to keep in mind that for students who do not meet SAP
standards at a school, the regulations do allow the students to appeal
to the Financial Aid Office and document that the student did not meet
SAP standards due to extenuating circumstances, which have since been
resolved, so there is already a process within the SAP monitoring that
gives students who legitimately had serious hardships during a semester
a second chance.
Other controls that could reduce waste/fraud:
1. Give financial aid offices more authority to limit loan
borrowing. We see students who transfer to MCCC and have already
borrowed large amounts of loans at other schools, and we have no
authority to deny them their maximum loan eligibility for the term,
even when they have a Pell Grant that pays their costs in full.
2. The Department of Education needs to give better guidance on
whether or not schools are allowed to divide Title IV aid payments up
in multiple disbursements. Right now we get a mixed message from the
Department of Ed. We've been told that it is okay to do this for
students in distance education classes, but at the same time schools
are still held to the requirement of giving students access to their
Title IV refunds early in the semester, which paying out aid in
multiple disbursement could prohibit. Hence, financial aid
administrators are reluctant to move to a practice of multiple
disbursements, because of concerns about remaining in compliance with
the rules about giving students access to their funds timely.
3. Put more funding into the Work Study program. It is critical to
fund the Pell Grant program, but I think Federal Work Study is a great
source of self-help financial aid that is often overlooked. Students
earn this aid and develop skills that give them an edge in the job
market when they leave school.
With my written testimony, I am attaching documents that further
explain the Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN).
``Employers say talent is their number one need to grow or expand
their businesses,'' said Lisa Katz, WIN Executive Director, ``as such,
we know that the key to economic develop is talent development,
including fostering creativity and education of Michigan's youth.''
A testament to that enthusiasm and commitment is evidenced by the
construction currently underway on campus for a new Career Technology
Center that will transform Monroe County's workforce through hands-on
instruction and access to cutting-edge equipment and technology.
But ``they must be good jobs,'' says Jobs Wars author Jim Clifton,
CEO of the prominent Gallup polling giant * * * who suggests ``good''
jobs are being the new currency for world leaders. And he challenges us
in higher education that ``students want education that results in GOOD
jobs'' and that is evident right here in Michigan as automakers and
others are tooling-up for the new economy--with high energy workplaces,
requiring high skilled hi paid workers.
WIN has learned that the job demand in the areas of information
technology, advanced manufacturing and healthcare, as evidence by the
number of employer job postings, has been substantial to the point
where employers are significantly challenged in filling positions.
Monroe County Community College is addressing the skills shortage in a
number of ways. For Monroe County Community College, the advantage of
partnering with the Workforce Intelligence Network is having access to
sophisticated data gathering research software that looks at the
occupational demand and the skills, educational credentials, and
experience needed to work in those occupations. While much of our
conversation has been focused on manufacturing, the current list of
high-demand jobs include radio mechanics, vet techs, diagnostic
stenographers, physical therapists, med equipment repairs,
cardiovascular techs, and environmental techs. But the truth remains
there is an extreme machinist shortage--the most extreme in ten years
in southeast Michigan.
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you, Dr. Nixon. I am a former Upward
Bound Special Services director.
Mr. Nixon. Good for you.
Chairwoman Foxx. So I am very familiar with the program.
I recognize now Ms. Cheri Betz for 5 minutes.
STATEMENT OF CHERI BETZ, SOUTHEAST REGIONAL DIRECTOR, COLLEGE
FOR PROFESSIONAL STUDIES, SIENA HEIGHTS UNIVERSITY
Ms. Betz. Good morning and greetings to Chairwoman Foxx and
Congressman Walberg, fellow panelists and distinguished guests.
Thank you. My name is Cheri Betz, and I am the Southeast
Regional Director for Siena Heights University's College for
Professional Studies, with managing responsibilities for the
Monroe and Southfield campuses.
Our President, Sister Peg Albert, sends her greetings and
extends her apologies for not being able to join us today. She
did have plans to be here to discuss this important topic, but
because of an urgent matter she was unable to do so.
First, I would like to provide a brief background on Siena
Heights University. We are a Catholic, liberal arts university
offering associate's, bachelor's, master's and specialist's
degrees. Founded in 1919 by the Adrian Dominican Sisters
congregation, our main campus is located in Adrian, Michigan,
with degree completion programs in Battle Creek, Benton Harbor,
Jackson, Lansing, Monroe, and Southfield, as well as totally
online. Siena Heights enrolls approximately 2,400 undergraduate
students and 350 graduate students across all campuses.
Siena has long had a strong relationship with both
employers and educational partners. In fact, Siena took a
pioneering role in providing opportunities for adult working
students by offering evening and weekend classes by opening
degree completion centers throughout Michigan beginning in
1975. One of these sites is located at Monroe County Community
College, where we have had a presence since 1990. We continue
to enjoy a productive and effective partnership with President
Nixon and his team.
One of our institutional goals is to identify the personnel
needs of local and regional communities and prepare the
professionals needed in these areas. However, the key is not
only identifying these needs but responding to those needs as
well. In the Monroe community, a recent example of this
includes an RN to BSN degree completion program we implemented
at Mercy Memorial Hospital. The cohort was offered through
Mercy Memorial after Sienna was approached by hospital
administration regarding an onsite degree completion option for
This is the kind of collaborative approach that Siena takes
as much as possible. In fact, we consider ourselves to be an
enabling institution that seeks to develop cooperative
arrangements with a wide variety of individuals and
institutions in the interest of creating effective learning
outcomes and environments.
Siena also regularly updates articulation agreements with
area community colleges and proprietary trade schools. These
agreements provide students with an understanding that their
earned degree or college credit will be accepted by Siena if
they meet the standards outlined in the formal document. Siena
takes it a step further and we have created user-friendly
transfer guides that are based off of these formal articulation
agreements that students can refer to when selecting courses to
take at the community college to transfer into Siena. Examples
of these transfer guides are included in the formal testimony.
Many of our students transfer in up to three years of
college credit from the community college, allowing them to
complete their bachelor's degree with one additional year of
college course work at Siena. By accepting such a high number
of credits, Siena is saving students thousands of dollars and
increasing the number of courses students can take right there
at the community college.
Siena's unique Bachelor of Applied Science degree allows
students without traditional transfer options for degree
completion an opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree without
repeating course work within their major. The Bachelor of
Applied Science degree works on the inverted major concept,
acknowledging the work the student has completed within their
Associate of Applied Science degree. Community colleges are the
leaders in offering AAS degrees in technical and occupational
areas. Siena has helped students in these degree fields obtain
a relevant degree that will help them advance in their chosen
careers. In fact, we have a number of student testimonials that
are also included in the testimony.
Siena is also actively engaged in developing relationships
with employers and key constituent groups on our Adrian campus.
Our Career Services Office led to the development of Operation
SERVE, which is a job opportunity fair targeted to help job
seeking community members, including military veterans. This
annual one-day fair completed its third year and had more than
70 employers and service providers attend.
Working with the local South Central Michigan Works agency,
there were several community ``boot camps'' leading up to the
event that addressed everything from how to dress appropriately
for an interview to resume creation. A similar fair was
conducted at the Monroe County Community College campus based
off Siena's concept. Career Services also participates and
brings our students to job fairs in Livonia, Lansing, and even
Another example is the development of a services-learning
philosophy by many of our academic programs. This approach,
which allows our students to integrate with community
businesses and organizations, is instrumental to their career
development. In the area of internships, Siena can claim that
more than 80 percent of our Adrian campus undergraduate
students who complete internships end up employed at the place
where they completed that internship. Because we have federal
programs such as McNair, Student Support Services and Upward
Bound on our campus, Siena plays a pivotal role in developing
first-generation and low-income students for not only the
workforce but also society at large. In fact, Siena has adopted
the Soft Skills Initiative the State of Michigan developed
several years ago after surveying more than 1,500 state
employers and asking what they were looking for in new hires.
These soft skills of developing self-managing behaviors align
exactly with the university's learning objectives.
Siena also offers federal monies, utilizes federal monies
from the Workforce Investment Act, as well as On-the-Job
Training funding from Michigan Works. We also take advantage of
the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.
Finally, Siena is actively involved in addressing the needs
of students with disabilities by making direct referrals to the
State of Michigan's Rehabilitation Services Agency. These
federal dollars, along with additional federal funding from
such areas as Pell Grants, the GI Bill and work-study, are
appreciated and greatly assist us in bringing higher education
to underserved student populations. An important fact to note
is that in the fall 2011 semester, 43 percent of our enrolled
students received Pell Grant assistance.
Siena's mission is to assist people to become more
competent, purposeful, and ethical through a teaching and
learning environment which respects the dignity of all, and
that is really what drives us as an institution, and we believe
in being true to that mission. We best prepare our students to
become successful not only in their careers but as productive
Again, thank you for the honor of testifying before you
[The statement of Ms. Betz follows:]
Prepared Statement of Sister Peg Albert, President, Siena Heights
University [Presented by Cheri Betz, Southeast Regional Director,
College for Professional Studies, Siena Heights University]
Greetings to Chairwoman Foxx, Congressman Walberg, fellow panelists
and distinguished guests. First, we would like to thank the organizers
of this field hearing for the opportunity to participate in this panel
discussion. We are privileged to have been invited to this hearing and
share our experiences and testimony with you.
First, let me provide a brief background of Siena Heights
University. We are a Catholic, liberal arts university offering
associate's, bachelor's, master's and specialist's degrees. Founded in
1919 by the Adrian Dominican Sisters congregation, our main campus is
located in Adrian, Michigan, with degree completion programs in Battle
Creek, Benton Harbor, Jackson, Lansing, Monroe, and Southfield as well
as Totally Online. Siena Heights enrolls approximately 2,400
undergraduate students and 350 graduate students across all campuses.
Siena Heights has long had a strong relationship with both
employers and educational partners. In fact, Siena Heights took a
pioneering role in providing opportunities for adult, working students
by offering evening and weekend classes and opening degree completion
centers throughout Michigan beginning in 1975. One of these sites is
located at Monroe County Community College, where we have had a
presence since 1990. We continue to enjoy a productive and effective
partnership with President Nixon and his team at MCCC.
One of our institutional goals is to identify the personnel needs
of local and regional communities and prepare the professionals and
paraprofessionals needed in these areas. However, the key is not only
identifying needs, but responding to those needs as well. In the Monroe
community, a recent example of this includes a RN to BSN degree
completion program we implemented at Mercy Memorial Hospital. The
cohort was offered through Mercy Memorial after SHU was approached by
hospital administration regarding an on-site degree completion option
for their employees. This is the kind of collaborative approach that
Siena Heights takes as much as possible. In fact, we consider ourselves
an ``enabling'' institution that seeks to develop cooperative
arrangements with a wide variety of individuals and institutions in the
interest of creating effective learning outcomes and environments.
Siena Heights also has regularly updated Articulation Agreements
with area community colleges and trade schools. These agreements
provide students with an understanding that their earned degree/credit
will be accepted by SHU if they meet the standards outlined in the
formal document. Siena has created user-friendly transfer guides based
off these articulation agreements that students can refer to when
selecting courses to take at the community college and transfer to
Siena. Examples of these transfer guides are included in the written
portion of this testimony. Many of our transfer students are able to
transfer in three years of college credit from the community college
allowing them to complete their bachelor's degree with one additional
year of college course work at Siena. By accepting such a high number
of transfer credits Siena is saving students thousands of dollars and
increasing the number of courses students take at the community college
by encouraging the student to return to the community college to
complete more course work. SHU's unique Bachelor of Applied Science
(BAS) degree allows students without traditional transfer options for
degree completion an opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree without
repeating courses within their major. The BAS degree works on the
inverted major concept, acknowledging the work the student has already
completed within their Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree.
Community colleges are the leaders in offering AAS degrees in technical
and occupational areas. SHU has helped students in these degree fields
obtain a relevant degree that will help them advance in their chosen
careers. In fact, we have a number of video student testimonials that
attest to that fact. Links to their video testimony can be found in the
written evidence we provided to the hearing committee.
Siena Heights is also active and engaged in developing
relationships with employers and key constituent groups on our Adrian
campus. Our Career Services office led to the development of Operation:
SERVE, a job opportunity fair targeted to help job-seeking community
members, including military veterans. This annual one-day fair
completed its third year and had more than 70 employers and service
providers attend. Working with the local South Central Michigan WORKS
agency, there were several community ``boot camps'' leading up to the
event that addressed everything from how to dress appropriately for an
interview to resume creation. A similar fair was created at the Monroe
County Community College campus based on SHU's successful concept.
Career Services also participates and brings our students to job fairs
in Livonia and Lansing in Michigan, and Toledo, Ohio.
Another example we would like to cite is the development of a
service-learning philosophy by many of our academic programs. This
approach, which allows our students to integrate with community
businesses and organizations, is instrumental to their career
development. In the area of internships, Siena Heights can claim that
more than 80 percent of our Adrian campus undergraduate students who
complete internships end up employed by the place where they had their
Because we have federal programs such as McNair, Student Support
Services and Upward Bound on our campus, Siena Heights plays a pivotal
role in developing first-generation and low-income students for not
only the workforce, but also for society at-large. In fact, Siena
Heights has adopted the ``Soft Skills'' initiative the state of
Michigan developed several years ago after surveying more than 1,500
state employers what they were looking for in new hires. These ``Soft
Skills'' of developing self-managing behaviors align exactly with the
University's learning objectives. Siena Heights also utilizes federal
monies from the Workforce Investment Act as well as On-the-Job Training
funding from Michigan Works! We also take advantage of the Work
Opportunity Tax Credit. Finally, Siena Heights is actively involved in
addressing the needs of students with disabilities by making direct
referrals to the state of Michigan's Rehabilitation Services Agency.
These federal dollars, along with additional federal funding from such
areas as Pell Grants, the GI Bill and work-study are appreciated and
greatly assist us in bringing higher education to underserved student
populations. An important fact to note is that in the fall 2011
semester, 43 percent of our enrolled students received Pell Grant
Siena Heights' mission to assist people to become more competent,
purposeful, and ethical through a teaching and learning environment
which respects the dignity of all is what drives us as an institution.
We believe in being true to our mission. We best prepare our students
to become successful not only in their careers, but also as productive
members of society.
Again, thank you for the honor of testifying before you today.
Additional SHU Points of Pride
Transfer Friendly--students can transfer in up to 90
semester hours of credit towards the 120 hours needed for the
bachelor's degree. This saves the student money by allowing them to
transfer in more credit than many other colleges and universities would
allow. Our academic advisors regularly advise students to return to the
community college to obtain additional credits at a lower cost before
transferring to SHU.
Regularly updated Articulation Agreements with area
community colleges and trade schools provide students with an
understanding that their degree/credit will be accepted by Siena if
they meet the standards outlined in the agreement.
Siena has a long history of serving employers directly at
their locations. Besides the Mercy Memorial Hospital example, SHU has
had a similar cohort program at the Cook Energy Center in Bridgman,
Mich., and a number of cohorts who have completed their master's degree
in Health Care Leadership onsite at the St. John Hospital System in
several locations in southeastern Michigan.
Our College for Professional Studies academic advisors are
regularly invited to actively participate in a number of community
college advisory committees. Some regional examples include: Monroe
County Community College Business Management Advisory Board, Monroe
County Community College Criminal Justice Advisory Committee, Henry
Ford Community College Culinary Arts Advisory Committee and the Henry
Ford Community College Energy Technology Advisory Committee. Siena's
participation in these advisory committee meetings benefits both
institutions by increasing awareness of each other's programs and
increasing communication about issues students may face within these
industries so that appropriate changes can be made to the various
Siena Heights is one of 14 institutions that will
participate in a conference June 30, 2013, hosted by the Michigan
Colleges Foundation that will discuss the role of higher education in
SHU regularly performs program reviews, watches for
industry trends, and listens to the community to ensure the majors
offered are relevant to the workforce needs. Some examples of our
response to these trends include:
- SHU's Community Services program is a primary example of
responding to industry trends with the addition of the Family Systems
concentration that addresses the need of our Community Services
graduates qualifying for certain positions within the State of
- SHU's Graduate College will offer a Master of Arts degree in
Clinical Mental Health Counseling, responding to the industry's
expected need/standards in this important field. The decision to change
the program from a 48-hour Community Counseling degree to a 60-hour
Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree was a result of an immersed
education review of the CACREP standards (both 2009 and proposed 2016),
licensure laws in contiguous states (increasing portability of the
degree to other states), the overall status of licensure across the
states and in discussion with policy makers in Lansing.
- In response to the declining demand for school counselors within
the state of Michigan, the Graduate College placed a moratorium on its
MA in School Counseling degree in 2012. This decision was made because
Siena is committed to offering programs with a positive career outlook.
- The Homeland Security and Emergency Management Advisory Committee
has had an impact on the curriculum of that master's degree program.
The Homeland Security and Emergency Management program was developed
through a collaboration with the Center for Homeland Defense and
Security and the Naval Postgraduate School.
- SHU's Biology program currently has a 90 percent acceptance rate
to medical schools. Also, the University recently signed an early
acceptance agreement with the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
for medical, dental and pharmacy.
- SHU recently completed a Healthcare Feasibility Study and
discussed what programs/majors are being considered to help address
some of the growing needs within that industry.
In 2004 Siena began offering a totally online bachelor
degree program. Since its inception the Distance Learning Program has
served students in 34 states. Currently, we offer online courses to
students residing in 30 states. Although we are in compliance in these
states, additional federal regulations do/might put a restraint on a
small institution like Siena Heights in its ability to provide quality
educational programming. For instance, online enrollment growth at
Siena has steadily increased with a retention rate of approximately 94
SHU's Graduate College now offers a totally online Master
of Arts degree in Leadership, increasing opportunities for advanced
degrees for those unable to attend campus courses.
Approximately 75-80 percent of all students enrolled at a
College for Professional Studies degree completion center and just over
90 percent of all students enrolled in the Distance Learning Programs
complete their program and graduate.
In a 2009 Eduventures(c) study, 95 percent of all Bachelor
of Applied Science graduates were satisfied with their degree
completion program, with many citing career advancement opportunities.
Operation: SERVE job opportunity fair completed its third
year with more than 70 employers and service providers attending to
help community members find jobs.
Siena Heights was named a ``Military Friendly''
institution for the fourth consecutive year by GI Jobs Magazine. To
keep up our good standing in this area, we recently hired a VA
administrator to assist our registrar with these administrative and
reporting duties. Our registrar, who previously handled all duties
related to the VA, said increased regulation and reporting to the VA
has increased ``four-fold'' in the past two years alone. Her suggestion
to lighten that burden would be to develop a more consistent and
uniform system for payment, reporting and communicating the changes/
updates of these multiple veterans programs.
siena student success stories
1. Richard Pazdar:
2. Tayleitha Pythowani:
3. Leha and Keith Miller:
4. Elizabeth McKay:
5. Marc Pierce:
6. Tanya Chappell:
7. Kristi Biundo:
8. Alison Myers:
9. Mary Stephens:
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you, Ms. Betz.
Dr. Shields, you are recognized for 5 minutes.
STATEMENT OF MICHELLE SHIELDS, CAREER COACH/WORKFORCE
DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR, JACKSON COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Ms. Shields. Thank you. Good morning, Chairman Foxx and
Congressman Walberg, and other distinguished guests. Thank you
for the opportunity to speak before this subcommittee. I also
will be reading my testimony so I do not miss any paramount or
important aspects of this discussion.
Jackson Community College each year serves more than 9,000
students in three counties--Lenawee, Hillsdale and Jackson--as
well as through online delivery of our courses. Students enroll
at JCC for a variety of reasons. To better align with students'
educational and career goals, JCC is adapting existing
Employers from all sectors have identified a variety of
deficiencies related to the workforce. JCC is working to
address these issues through curriculum and program reform,
customized training, and student seminars, including work-based
learning opportunities such as internships and advisory groups.
Recently, a number of employers have contracted with
Jackson Community College through MNJTP, Michigan New Jobs
Training Program. It is a grant to proactively address training
needs for workers. Training for employees is more than just an
on-boarding for technical or hard skills. It includes a host of
communication skills and behavior awareness initiatives.
Examples of training requests and objectives we have
received from local employers include personal coaching and
mentoring, time management, trust and team building, employee
engagement, in addition to sensitivity training. Additionally,
local employers have expressed the need for quality workers in
the field of manufacturing at all levels of the organization.
To help meet employer needs, the Associate in Applied
Science program at JCC is designed to provide hands-on training
and theoretical knowledge necessary to produce graduates that
are properly trained and job ready. The various concentrations
within the sciences are in high-demand technical and
manufacturing disciplines. JCC is currently adapting existing
programs and creating new curriculum to meet the newest
technology and more rigorous technical expertise that employers
are seeking in their job candidates.
JCC is in the preliminary stages of creating the framework
within this system to allow students interested in perhaps only
a concentration, and then moving toward an immediate goal later
for an associate degree. So they can add to their academic core
courses to expand on their concentration to get that Associate
degree if they so choose.
This restructured approach will allow for a larger student
base and assist in getting students aligned with their
educational and career goals faster. An additional benefit will
be realized in meeting employer needs through access to
qualified and competent job candidates.
Further, employer feedback tells us that many workers do
not demonstrate proficiency in problem solving and critical
thinking skills. To address this concern, JCC will be
integrating basic math skills into the early concentration
courses. This method should allow students to get the math
experience they need and require within the courses that are in
their area of interest through a platform designed to engage
them while learning.
In addition to critical thinking and problem solving
skills, employers report that they are experiencing and
observing a lack of communication skills, specifically soft
skills such as diversity appreciation, appropriate messaging
and trust. As JCC continues to demonstrate flexibility and
reform curriculum to address employer needs, the First Year
Seminar or FYS course for new students is also being modified.
This is a life/work skills course that is designed to set
the student on a pathway of success from a 360-degree
perspective with both technical and soft skills embedded into
the coursework. To do this, the message of creating a culture
of achievement is woven throughout the course and maintains
center focus. This is the framework needed to support the
stronger work ethic of a future workforce. Changes to this
class are ongoing and key stakeholder voices are heard to
ensure that outcomes align with student success.
With course outcomes such as time management, critical
thinking and teamwork, students taking this course will be
entering the workforce as change agents, giving employers the
quality and caliber of employees they need.
JCC employer partnerships are beneficial to students. As
the Career Coach, I see this firsthand through contributions
students make in the workplace through internships and other
Ensuring that employers are finding quality in their
workers is a priority for JCC, and we will continue to
participate in valuable discussions regarding expectations,
implementation of best practices, and researching market trends
to demonstrate our support.
In summary, JCC is actively responding to our local
employers by providing quality, work-ready graduates through
reformed curriculum and programs designed with their input.
Thank you for allowing me to speak with you today.
[The statement of Ms. Shields follows:]
Prepared Statement of Michelle M. Shields, Career Coach,
Jackson Community College
STATE OF THE COLLEGE
Each year JCC serves more than 9,000 students in three
counties and through on-line delivery of courses.
Students enroll at JCC for a variety of reasons. To better
align with the educational and career goals of our students JCC is
adapting existing programs.
PARTNERSHIPS BETWEEN HIGHER EDUCATION AND EMPLOYERS
In December 2012, JCC received notification by the
Michigan Community College Association (MCCA) of available Michigan New
Jobs Training Program (MNJTP) funds. Employers in essence receive free
training dollars for individuals, by adding new jobs to their payroll.
In early February, MNJTP contracts were sent to the
Michigan Treasury totaling $499,500.00 earmarked for training, through
diversions of state withholding from new employees/positions
Employers have identified both soft and technical skill
deficiencies in workers, and therefore connected with JCC to create
customized training to remedy these issues.
An on-line job board was created for employers to utilize
for their hiring needs. Qualified job candidates are referred to
employers by JCC Faculty and the Career Coach in response to job
MATCHING EMPLOYER NEEDS THROUGH CURRICULUM
Technical expertise is integrated into curriculum to meet
employer expectations, demonstrated through work based learning
opportunities and job offers.
The curriculum of the work/life skills class (FYS) will
incorporate the importance of soft skills, critical thinking and
problem solving as these are fundamental characteristics found in
Good morning. Congresswoman/Chairwoman, Foxx, Congressman Walberg
and other distinguished guests.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak before the Subcommittee on
Higher Education and Workforce Training at this hearing entitled
``Reviving our Economy: The Role of Higher Education in Job Growth and
Development on behalf of Jackson Community College''.
Employers from all sectors have identified a variety of
deficiencies relating to the workforce. JCC is working to address these
issues through curriculum and program reform, customized training,
student seminars; work based learning opportunities and advisory
Recently a number of employers have contracted with JCC through the
MNJTP grant to proactively address training of workers. Training for
employees is more than just on-boarding for technical or hard skills;
it includes a host of communication, soft skills and behavior awareness
Examples of training requests and objectives we have received from
local employers include personal coaching and mentoring, time
management, trust and team building, employee engagement and
sensitivity training. Additionally, local employers have expressed the
need for quality workers in the field of manufacturing, and at all
levels of the organization.
To help meet employer needs, the Associate in Applied Science
program at JCC is designed to provide the hands-on and theoretical
knowledge necessary to produce graduates that are properly trained, and
job ready. The various concentrations within the Associate in Applied
Science are high demand technical manufacturing disciplines. JCC is
currently adapting existing programs and creating new curriculum to
meet the newest technology and the more rigorous technical expertise
that employers are seeking in candidates.
JCC is in the preliminary stages of creating the framework within
this system to allow students interested only in a concentration to
achieve that immediate goal and then later, as they progress in their
careers, they can add the other academic core courses to expand their
concentration to earn the Associate degree if they so choose.
This restructured approach will allow for a larger student base,
and assist in getting students aligned with their educational and
career goals faster. An additional benefit will be realized in meeting
employer needs through access to qualified and competent job
Further, employer feedback tells us that many workers do not
demonstrate proficiency in problem solving and critical thinking
skills. To address this concern, JCC will be integrating basic math
skills into the early concentration courses. This method should allow
students to get the math experience they require within course(s) that
are in their area of interest and through a platform designed to engage
them while learning.
In addition to critical thinking and problem solving skills,
employers report that they are experiencing and observing a lack of
communication skills. Specifically, soft skills such as diversity
appreciation, appropriate messaging and trust. As JCC continues to
demonstrate flexibility and reform curriculum to address employer
needs, the First Year Seminar (FYS) course for new students is also
This life/work skills course is designed to set the student on the
pathway for success from a 360 degree perspective with both technical
and soft skills imbedded into the coursework. To do this, the message
of ``creating a culture of achievement'' is woven throughout the course
and maintains center focus. This is the framework needed to support a
stronger work ethic of the future workforce. Changes to this class are
on-going and key stakeholder voices are heard to ensure that outcomes
align student success. With course outcomes such as time management,
critical thinking and teamwork, students taking this course will be
workforce change agents, giving employers the quality and caliber of
employees they need.
JCC's employer partnerships are beneficial to our students. As the
Career Coach, I see first-hand, the contributions students make in the
workplace through internships and other learning assignments. Students
share positive feelings about their experiences in addition to a sense
of pride and achievement which serves as validation for their
sacrifices and hard work.
Ensuring that employers are finding quality workers is a priority
for JCC and we will continue to participate in valuable discussions
regarding expectations, implement best practices and research market
trends to demonstrate our support. For the convenience of employers
seeking to fill positions, the Jobs for Jets section on JCC's main web
page was created. This venue affords employers the opportunity to
quickly post jobs vacancies which are accessible to JCC students and
alum. Later this month we are hosting a job fair to help local
employers find the talent they seek for their organizations.
In summary, JCC is actively responding to our local employers by
providing quality, work-ready graduates through reformed curriculum and
programs designed with their input.
Thank you for allowing me to speak with you today.
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF DOUGLAS A. LEVY, DIRECTOR OF FINANCIAL AID, MACOMB
Mr. Levy. On behalf of Macomb Community College and our
President, Dr. James Jacobs, I wish to thank Chairwoman Foxx,
Representative Walberg, Ranking Member Hinojosa and the rest of
the committee for the opportunity to testify before you today.
Dr. Jacobs has already submitted a written testimony which
highlights some of the great work that Macomb is doing in the
area of workforce development. To complement this, my comments
will focus on the critical importance of federal student aid
for students, the workforce, and America's economy in general.
To frame the discussion, I will start by offering a few
relevant statistics that highlight the importance of federal
student aid for students pursuing higher education at Macomb.
This past fall, 24,160 students enrolled in credit classes at
Macomb, which represents a 15 percent increase since the fall
of 2004. During that same eight-year period, the number of
students receiving some form of federal student aid increased
by 327 percent, and Pell Grant recipients increased by 231
Stated slightly differently, more than half of all
currently enrolled students depend on some form of federal
student aid, and a full one-third of all currently enrolled
students receive a Pell Grant. Each of those numbers was less
than one-tenth of all students eight years ago.
When put into the further context of the many job-skill-
based certificate programs and employment-driven associate
degrees that Macomb Community College offers, the significant
impact that federal student aid has on the economy in general
is also exemplified. Related, more than half of the current aid
recipients at Macomb are classified as non-traditional, with an
average age of 34 years old. While the reasons for this
particular population attending Macomb are obviously diverse,
it is well-documented that the single biggest factor is
directly related in one way or another to improving their
employment situation, including having lost a job and having to
learn a new employable skill. Without the assistance of the
Pell Grant, many of these students would not be able to afford
to attend college and thus would face greatly diminished
For the many students currently receiving federal student
aid at Macomb who, rather than entering the workforce upon
graduation, continue to pursue a bachelor's degree at a four-
year institution, the importance of financial aid is also very
evident. With low tuition and fees, many Pell Grant recipients
at Macomb achieve their associate's degree with little or no
loan burden, which ultimately translates into significantly
less debt upon completion of a four-year degree. Clearly, there
are many benefits, both to the student and for our economy in
general, when graduating students enter the workforce with less
The next topic I wish to mention is the need for change in
the way that financial aid is administered. There is little
debate that many aspects of financial aid are far too complex,
from a regulatory standpoint, how institutions are required to
administer aid, and how students interact with it.
One specific area in need of change that directly impacts
the ability of community colleges to more fully leverage
federal aid is what I refer to as the fallacy of a one-size-
fits-all approach to financial aid administration. The current
approach is analogous to having the same set of manufacturing,
safety and consumer regulations for bicycles, cars and yachts,
since they are all considered forms of transportation. For
example, having the same loan limits for community colleges as
for a four-year private institutions is problematic for
community colleges for a variety of reasons, including the
potential for excessive and abusive borrowing, default rates
that continue to rise, and escalating levels of non-collectible
Financial aid policy and regulations need to recognize and
account for these differences. By doing so, it will make the
process more efficient, thereby reducing the overall cost of
aid administration, and resulting in federal student financial
aid being significantly more responsive to all those it is
intended to serve.
Before closing, I would like to briefly comment on the
general topic of student aid as it relates to the federal
budget. First and foremost, I sincerely appreciate the
bipartisan support that federal aid in general, and the Pell
Grant program in particular, has received over the past several
years. Pell is a universally important program, and as a member
of the higher education community, I am very thankful for your
Secondly, I recognize the threat of record levels of
federal debt but urge you to continue to invest in students by
fully funding student aid programs to ensure that these
programs remain predictable, reliable, and sustainable.
Attempting to balance the budget through reduced funding in
federal aid diminishes our odds of future success.
In conclusion, I leave you with the following observation.
As demonstrated by the information provided in my testimony
today, federal student aid continues to play an increasingly
critical role in the lives of so many people in building a
well-trained, expanding workforce and in maintaining a thriving
economy. The evidence is clear and indisputable: a strong
commitment to federal student aid is, above all else, a solid
investment in America's future.
Thank you for your time.
[The statement of Mr. Levy follows:]
Prepared Statement of Douglas A. Levy, Director of Financial Aid,
Macomb Community College, Warren, MI
On behalf of Macomb Community College and our President, Dr. Jim
Jacobs, I wish to thank Chairwoman Foxx, Representative Walberg,
Ranking Member Hinojosa and the rest of the Committee for the
opportunity to testify before you today. With prior approval from the
Committee, Dr. Jacobs has submitted a written testimony which
highlights some of the great work that Macomb continues to do in many
areas of workforce development and advanced in-demand training. To
compliment this, my comments will focus on the critical importance of
federal student aid for students, the workforce, and America's economy
To frame the discussion, I would like to start by offering a few
relevant statistics that highlight the importance of federal student
aid for students pursuing higher education at Macomb. This past Fall,
24,160 students enrolled in credit classes at Macomb, which represents
a 15% increase since the Fall of 2004. During that same eight-year
period, the number of students receiving some form of federal student
aid increased by 327%, and Pell Grant recipients increased by 231%.
Stated slightly differently, more than half of all currently enrolled
students depend on some form of federal student aid and a full one-
third of all currently enrolled students receive a Pell Grant. Each of
those numbers was less than 10% eight years ago.
When put into the further context of the many job-skill-based
certificate programs and employment-driven associate degrees that
Macomb Community College offers, the significant impact that federal
student aid has on the economy in general is also exemplified. Related,
more than half of the current aid recipients at Macomb are classified
as non-traditional, with an average age of 34 years old. While the
reasons for this particular population attending Macomb are obviously
diverse, it is well-documented that the single biggest factor is
directly related in one way or another to improving their employment
situation, including having lost a job and having to learn a new
employable skill. Without the assistance of the Pell Grant, many of
these students would not be able to afford to attend college and thus
would face greatly diminished employment prospects.
For the many students currently receiving federal student aid at
Macomb who, rather than immediately entering the workforce upon
graduation, continue to pursue a bachelor's degree at a 4-year
institution, the importance of financial aid is also very evident. With
low tuition and fees, many Pell Grant recipients at Macomb achieve
their Associate's Degree with little or no loan burden, which
ultimately translates into significantly less debt upon completion of a
4-year degree. Clearly, there are many benefits, both to the student
and for our economy in general, when graduating students enter the
workforce with less loan burden.
The next topic I wish to mention is the need for change in the way
that financial aid is administered. There is little debate that many,
if not most, aspects of financial aid are far too complex, from a
regulatory standpoint, from how institutions are required to administer
it, and from how students interact with it. One specific area in need
of change that directly impacts the ability of community colleges to
leverage federal student aid to the maximum benefit of students and
ultimately for the greater good of the economy, is what I refer to as
the fallacy of a one-size-fits-all approach to financial aid
administration. The current approach is analogous to having one set of
manufacturing, safety and consumer regulations for bicycles, cars and
yachts, since they are all considered forms of transportation. For
example, having the same loan limits for community colleges as for 4-
year private institutions is problematic for a variety of reasons,
including the potential for fraud and abuse of loan borrowing at
community colleges. Financial aid policy and regulations need to
recognize and account for these differences. By doing so, it will make
the process more efficient for each type of institution, reduce the
costs of administration, and result in student financial aid being
significantly more aligned with and responsive to all those it is
intended to serve.
Before closing, I would like to briefly comment on the general
topic of student aid as it relates to the federal budget. First and
foremost, I sincerely appreciate the bipartisan support that federal
student aid in general, and the Pell Grant program in particular, has
received over the past several years. Pell is a universally important
program and as a member of the higher education community, I am very
thankful for your support. Secondly, I recognize the threat of record
levels of federal debt, but urge you to continue to invest in students
by fully funding student aid programs to ensure that these programs
remain predicable, reliable, and sustainable. Attempting to balance the
budget through reduced funding in education diminishes our odds for
In conclusion, I leave you with the following observation. As
demonstrated by the information provided in my testimony today
regarding Macomb Community College's experiences, federal student aid
continues to play an increasingly critical role in the lives of so many
people, in building a well-trained, expanding workforce and in
maintaining a thriving economy. The evidence is clear and indisputable:
a strong commitment to federal student aid is, above all else, a solid
investment in America's future.
I thank you for your time.
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you very much.
I would like to start questions with an issue that Ms. Betz
brought up. I am fascinated, and all of us on the committee are
fascinated with the different ways to bring down the cost of a
college education, and you have raised the issue here that I
think is very important about the program that you have, the
three years on campus here, and the one year at Siena. Tell me
how you got the accreditors to approve that.
Ms. Betz. Well, I think it goes back to our mission, and
that is to be confident, purposeful, and ethical. If we were
able to assist students to manage what their debt was going to
be when they elect school, I think that spoke highly of what we
were trying to do with our community partners.
The program is really remarkable in that it is accepting
such a high credit amount of transfer work. Typically, schools
do not transfer in up to 90 semester hours of credit, or if
they do, students find out once they are in the program that
they have to repeat many of the courses within their major. Our
students are bringing us their transcripts, and they have an
answer with what is going to be transferred in before they
begin the program. I think that speaks to the high ethical
standard that we hold ourselves to, and that was another factor
that was a benefit.
Chairwoman Foxx. Well, again, I worked at a university
before I went to a community college, and I worked out
articulation agreements with community colleges to do exactly
what you are talking about, to make sure that students knew
when they took the classes at the community college, or even at
another four-year school, what they could transfer in, but I
have not seen a program that does three years on the community
college campus, and then one year at the four-year school. So
it is another arrow in the quiver, as far as I am concerned,
for how we can talk about reducing the cost of going to
I would like to follow up with you a little bit on talking
a little bit about what you are doing in distance education and
how is that fitting into your overall program. Are the students
that you are serving through distance education very different
from the students you are currently serving or have been
Ms. Betz. That is a great question. We started our distance
learning program in 2004. Currently, we have 351 students
enrolled in that specific program in 30 states. So our students
differ in that the program, in order to be enrolled and
admitted into that program, the admission standard is slightly
higher, and you will see that our retention rate is slightly
higher as well in that area compared to our other College for
Professional Studies programs. Both are very respectable, but I
think that makes a difference and an impact.
We do offer a number of tutoring options as well for our
distance programs, as well as online library resources. So we
are not just saying, okay, here is the course, and it is just a
silo within that course. There are other resources that
students can reach out to to ensure that they are successful.
We also boast a very highly personalized advising mantra,
so to speak, so that students aren't a number. They are a
person to us, and we take them in as part of our Siena family.
So I think that speaks highly of how we have been able to
maintain such good retention rates within the College for
Chairwoman Foxx. And according to your comments, you have
been doing off-campus programs since 1975.
Ms. Betz. That is correct.
Chairwoman Foxx. You were ahead of the curve of many, many
schools in terms of offering these kinds of programs.
Ms. Betz. Yes.
Chairwoman Foxx. And here at Monroe since 1990. Is that
Ms. Betz. That is correct.
Chairwoman Foxx. Great.
My time is almost up, so I am going to yield to Mr.
Walberg, and then I will come back with some other questions
for other members of the panel.
Mr. Walberg. Thank you. And if I could, a point of personal
privilege. Madam Chairwoman, you know that we, as brothers and
sisters in the battle of public policy, experience a life that
is different than the rest of the world. Maybe that is our
problem. But I have a former colleague of mine in the room from
the state legislature, former State Representative Greg
Pitoniak, who is involved heavily in workforce issues in the
region. I just wanted to thank you, Greg, for joining us today.
Even though we didn't let you speak because politicians
generally speak too long anyway, it is good to have you here.
Dr. Nixon, again, I appreciate you allowing us to be here
today for this hearing. The subcommittee is always concerned
with waste, fraud and abuse, and each of you have mentioned the
area of financial aid. So I guess I would like to ask each of
you to respond to this question, but Dr. Nixon first.
Often, community colleges are at risk because of their low
tuitions, at least at risk of the perception of fraud and abuse
of federal aid to students. Can you describe how MCCC deals
with this and prevents that from happening?
Mr. Nixon. I appreciate that question because it is a
concern. Our goal, obviously, is to give students the
opportunity of reaching their career goals through higher
By the way, just to expand on the Chairwoman's questions
for Ms. Betz, another bonus, if you will, is that both Monroe
County Community College and Siena Heights are accredited by
the Higher Learning Commission, so it is easier to work with
But in response to your question, yes, there is an
opportunity for fraud and abuse. We cherish the Pell Grant
opportunity for our students. You have heard how many of our
students require some type of tuition assistance. The problem
is that for a student who comes in here and is maxed with a
$5,500 Pell Grant, you have a lot left over after tuition. They
are allowed with that extra money, which is a couple of
thousand dollars, to purchase computers or to help out with
So the challenge for us is to track those students in those
classes to make sure we know if they have left the campus, and
that is the greatest challenge for us, because we have had
students that do that. Just recently in Detroit, publicly
stated, publicly reported, there were two rings of individuals
who had figured out the Pell Grant system, and they were going
around to the community colleges and enrolling in each one.
Fortunately, our financial aid and enrollment management
people have figured out a system to start on the front end to
measure where those students are, or to determine whether and
if they have gone to another college, or if they have not told
the truth on their registration packet, which is one way of
putting up a stop sign and saying, oops, you have not told the
truth in your registration forms, we are not going to allow you
into the program.
Now, there are not many of them, but as you see, even with
a 2 percent default rate, that is $250,000 we have to turn back
to the federal government. So I think there are some ways,
according to our financial aid experts here on the campus--they
have done a tremendous job working with these students. They
need more opportunities to intervene, because they cannot tell
a student--if, based on their professional judgment, a student
shouldn't be loading on some additional loans in addition to
the Pell Grant, they are not able to do that. So I think that
would benefit at least our financial aid folks to take better
control of that.
Mr. Walberg. To have that ability.
Mr. Nixon. Yes.
Mr. Walberg. Ms. Betz?
Ms. Betz. Our regular practice is to monitor attendance,
both on the ground and in participation in our online courses,
so that if students are not participating or attending class,
they are dropped within that first week. Because we are on an
eight-week term, we have two eight-week accelerated programs
through the College for Professional Studies, we are able to
help catch some of that. Maybe they were enrolled in the class
but they never had intentions of taking the course and
participating for a grade, so that we can be corrective in
getting them out of the class before aid has been distributed
if they are receiving that type of aid.
Another thing that I think is important for us to remember
is, yes, we do have approximately 43 percent of our students
receiving the Pell Grant this past year, but just to be
cognizant of any additional regulations. In speaking with our
financial aid director, she just wanted me to convey that if
there is anything that can be done for assistance and how those
monies are reported back, that would be greatly appreciated.
Mr. Walberg. Let me jump in here. Dr. Shields, so we can
get some response from Jackson Community College.
Ms. Shields. Sure, thank you. At JCC, we check transcripts
of incoming students to see if they have perhaps enjoyed the
academic career at a former institution, and we check to ensure
that they are in good standing with academic progress, SAP.
Additionally at JCC, we have an HQV system, a Help Quit
Verify system, and it is a three-point system, three checks
within the semester. If a student needs help, if they are not
doing well, they may get a call from our Learning Support
Center. If they have not attended, we also do drop them, of
course, in that earlier time period. And then, of course, the
``V'' to verify that they are, in fact, attending class and
participating. So we have implemented some safeguards to our
Mr. Walberg. With your indulgence, Madam Chairwoman, may I
Chairwoman Foxx. Certainly.
Mr. Walberg. Thank you.
Chairwoman Foxx. I tell you what, I will yield you my
question, my round this time, just to keep things straight. How
Mr. Walberg. Thank you.
Mr. Levy. Thank you. Yes, it is a great question. As I
mentioned in my testimony, one area specifically as it relates
to the fact that community colleges are strapped by the same
loan limits that four-year publics are, and four-year privates.
So I am obligated to give a student, a first-year student, up
to $5,500 in loan money even if they have a full Pell Grant, as
Dr. Nixon said.
Now, having said that, there are things that we try to do
to mitigate the risk. One area is that we don't actually
disperse funds to students until after the three-week census
date so that we know who is in class and who isn't. At the
beginning of the term, we are able to provide for their direct
costs of tuition, obviously, because it is on the student
account, as well as we have an agreement with our bookstore. So
students can get their direct costs taken care of without
having the money in their pocket. So that is a way that we can
slow down the abuse factor.
I would also suggest that the federal government is doing
some things right now with the new regulations for enrollment
and unusual enrollment history. We are getting flagged now for
students who are running from one institution to another, and
we are obligated to look into those students before we give
them federal aid.
It is really a matter of, as I said in my testimony,
looking at the individual types of institutions and providing
the kinds of regulations so that we can have professional
judgment, as Dr. Nixon said, that we can look somebody in the
eye and say we know that you are borrowing $5,000, but it is
not for educational expenses, and we are not going to provide
that money to you. Right now we cannot do that unless we are
absolutely sure that they can look me in the eye and say I am
not going to pay that back, and that is the only regulatory
reason I can deny somebody a student loan. So there has to be a
Mr. Walberg. Those are challenging things, and it is good
to get information for us to hear as we battle with that whole
issue of diminishing dollars at this point in time and getting
a $16 trillion debt and deficit spending under control, and
dealing with what the real world has to deal with. These are
challenges, and yet still to get people educated.
For me to have a young lady come to my office requesting
help on a foreclosure situation and the purchasing of a
replacement or paying off so they can keep the house and say,
within three weeks I will be able to get my Pell Grant money,
and then I can pay, that wasn't for education. Though I felt
for that young lady and her desire to keep that home, that
wasn't the purpose. So those are the challenges we face.
Let me go on.
Chairwoman Foxx. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. Walberg. Yes, I would.
Chairwoman Foxx. Okay. I think you are on the right line of
questioning. So if I could, I would like to ask one quick
question of Mr. Levy.
I have not heard anything at all from the financial aid
administration or the National Association--I have lost track
of the title of it. But has your association made
recommendations to members of Congress along these lines? I am
curious to know if there is a set of legislative
Mr. Levy. Yes, absolutely. The National Association of
Student Financial Aid Administrators is actively pursuing
recommendations on several fronts, including the areas we are
discussing today, transparency and award notification, and so
on and so forth.
At a more global level, the Melinda and Bill Gates
Foundation just commissioned grants from over 15 organizations
to come up with white papers about what they call ``Reimagining
Aid Design and Delivery.'' There are some people who are a lot
smarter than I am who will do some very important think pieces
about accountability of financial aid offices in universities
and joint partnerships, skin in the game so that completion
rates are tied to financial aid. There is a lot of activity
around the area of really redesigning financial aid to both
address what you are talking about, the escalating costs, as
well as making it a more efficient operation for everybody
So, absolutely, there is much activity in that regard, very
good activity in that regard.
Chairwoman Foxx. It is your turn again. We will set the
clock again. I yielded to you, then I took back some time. Now
it is your turn again.
Mr. Walberg. I like this process. We ought to talk to
Chairman Kline about continuing this.
Let me go along the line again asking each of you, and I
will start with Mr. Levy first, so we will go back in this
It comes up with the idea that I am meeting and going
manufacturer to manufacturer, business place to business place,
and I hear so often the frustration that employers are saying,
you know, not every student should go to college or university.
There are trade programs. We've been talking about that, and I
think you are attempting to meet that aggressively, those
But let me ask you, do you counsel and have in place a
process of counseling certain students against pursuing
education for job fields that the jobs aren't there right now?
Do you have any process in place to do that, Mr. Levy? We will
start with you.
Mr. Levy. I believe that Dr. Jacobs would be much better to
answer that question then I. But when students come into my
office, and you can tell that they are not academically
equipped for what we are offering them for a degree program, we
do send them over to the academic advising and counseling
office to see what other opportunities there are at the
community college, non-credit classes, other workforce
development activities within the college.
Mr. Walberg. Dr. Shields?
Ms. Shields. We have in my office, I put students through
what is called Job Fit. It is an assessment tool to help them
understand what would be expected of them in their desired
field when they come to talk about their hopes and dreams,
because clearly we want to help people succeed in advance.
Additionally, we have what is called Career Coach. It is a
program that allows students to type in an occupation, and then
it more fully discloses to them the level of education they
will need, the trends, so that they are not getting a degree
and spending a lot of money for something where they will not
find successful employment. So we have those tools in place for
our students and applicants, yes.
Mr. Walberg. But it is still up to them to make that final
Ms. Shields. They do make that decision.
Mr. Walberg. Ms. Betz?
Ms. Betz. We have two things that come to mind that I think
would be a good example of what Siena does. As I mentioned
earlier, our personal advising. We meet with the student
individually with an academic advisor and we listen to what
they are telling us their goals are, why they want to pursue
higher education. If we feel that it is not a good fit, we will
recommend another path for them, whether it is another college
or another program. It may be a proprietary school may be a
better fit for their career goals, or it may even be going back
to a community college to enroll in a separate or different
The other thing that we have recently done is we have
increased some of the standards within our programs for
admission. A recent example of this that will be happening this
fall is with our professional communication major where we are
asking students to have a certain GPA in courses that lead up
to the higher level, the junior/senior level classes, so that
they are not getting in just with a 2.0. They are going to have
to have a 3.0 in order to advance in their major.
So those are just two examples of what we are trying to do.
Mr. Walberg. Dr. Nixon?
Mr. Nixon. Thank you very much. Monroe County Community
College has a number of strategies in that regard. And, by the
way, the best assistance we got in that regard was from Global
Engines five years ago that opened an engine plant here in
Monroe, and their requirement is an associate degree to work at
a plant. That spoke volumes to the community and the students
who are starting to think about these new careers.
In addition to that, Monroe County Community College is a
member of the WIN, the Workforce Intelligence Network, that was
funded by employers and others in Detroit. We are one of eight
community colleges, including Macomb, and the greatest tool in
our toolbox is getting all the data now for what is driving
these jobs, what are the best paying jobs. The latest data that
I have is in your material in part of my text that I didn't
read this morning.
But here is why this is important. Fortunately, we have a
marketing department that is working closely with the local
newspaper that is continually informing the students of where
those high-skilled, high-paying jobs are, so that when they
come to the campus, they at least have an idea.
My concern is that there is another population of
individuals, according to the WIN data, that are 40-years-plus
whose shelf life on their skills may have expired, just like
software does. Those are the adults that come back for the
short-term training programs for some of these high-skilled
jobs. Our challenge is finding the money for the tuition for
those programs as we have had in the past.
But there are a number of strategies in addition to that in
the high schools, the high school counselors that our
enrollment management people work with all the time. We also
have a high school program on campus which with the ISD which
is geared on all healthcare careers, which takes care of all
the healthcare careers. They are coming onto the campus as a
freshman in high school instead of going to their high school,
and they are here five years, and by the time they finish they
will have an associate degree and their high school diploma.
When the new career tech center is open, that is the plan for
that, to reach down, do the talent searching into the lower
So we don't have this issue of a student coming here and
saying, ``What should I take?''
Mr. Walberg. Yes. Well, I appreciate that, and I certainly
think we ought to be encouraging our young people to be all
that they can be.
Mr. Nixon. Right.
Mr. Walberg. But not necessarily telling them you can be
anything you want. Even if you could be, you still have to make
a contribution to society that adds to the tax base and to
paying your own way, as opposed to the dreams that never come
true. Ultimately, with the vanishing dollars we have, we can't
Thank you, Madam Chairwoman.
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you.
Dr. Shields, Dr. Nixon brought up an issue that I had
wanted to explore a little bit, and that is the issue of dual
enrollment. Do you do a lot at your college with students who
are in high school, and does Michigan have an overall program
to promote students getting college credit while they are still
enrolled in high school?
Ms. Shields. Yes, and thank you. JCC in all three counties
has dual enrollment agreements, and specifically at our Lenawee
facility, which is JCC at LISD Tech. So clearly, we have those
relationships wherein students do come to us and they are
enrolled at their high school and also JCC to get their
preliminary coursework completed, and it also helps to offset
the cost of college for so many of those students who may
otherwise not be able to find the funding to attend.
Chairwoman Foxx. And I would like to switch gears, then,
just a little bit. How are you working with the employers that
you are hoping will employ your graduates? How are you working
with them to get the feedback that you need to get the skills
for the students so that when they graduate or when they
complete a certificate program or in whatever way they decide
to move on to work, how are you working to get those skills
imbued in your classes?
Ms. Shields. Yes, thank you for asking. Well, three
different ways right now. This is perfect timing. We are
hosting a job fair next week at JCC, and employers in our
community are just so excited about that, to be able to come to
our campus and get a talent match.
Additionally, we have advisory groups wherein we sit down
and have those candid discussions, and sometimes they are very
sensitive, basically helping us understand what they are
looking for when they hire on our graduates, and then how those
graduates can be successful long-time employees.
So, as I stated earlier, our first-year seminar class is
being redesigned to incorporate the information that I get as a
career coach and connecting with our employers with regard to
those soft skills and the 360 approach to the students to help
them have a greater work ethic and be that workforce, the
desired workforce that is going to support our community and
the local employers. So advisor group meetings.
Additionally, many of our faculty are adjuncts that work as
professionals or practitioners in their field of expertise, and
they bring forth some amazing information that helps us as we
look to curriculum reform and re-delivery.
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you very much.
I wonder, Ms. Betz, if you wanted to mention anything else
about what Siena Heights is doing to meet the local workforce
demands. Have you ever been faced with eliminating programs
that are no longer in demand as regards the workforce?
Ms. Betz. Sure. We recently put--within our graduate
college, we have a Master of Arts in Counseling. One of the
concentrations that students could obtain was called school
counseling. We were receiving feedback from students, and from
those on our practicum sites as well, that it was kind of a
declining market with some difficulties facing that particular
area. So we decided this past fall to, in fact, put a
moratorium on that particular concentration, and in doing so we
took a look at the program as a whole.
It was 48 semester hours. We recently adopted a 60-
semester-hour program for the counseling degree, and that would
bring us up to standards for the accreditation, which is the
Council for Accreditation in Counseling and Related Educational
Programs, both their 2009 and the expected 2016 recommendations
for that program. So that is one example.
In our undergraduate program, our community services major,
we were hearing feedback from DHS administrators that students,
in order to get hired into particular jobs within the State of
Michigan, needed to have specific skill sets that our
curriculum was not addressing at the time. So we created a
family systems concentration within that major that students
could elect to do, and that has been very helpful in helping
them obtain employment.
Chairwoman Foxx. Great.
Mr. Walberg. It was mentioned, I believe, Dr. Shields, you
mentioned earlier about responding to employer concerns on
employee deficiencies. I think that was the term you used. It
sounded to me like you were saying there are employers who say,
``They are trained, but they are not trained to what we really
need in the field.'' And so I would ask the question, how do
they report those needs to you?
Ms. Shields. Thank you. They are very clear and honest
about when they hire in a new employee and they have
expectations, and oftentimes it is not a technical expectation
or a specific hard skill, but it is more a work ethic issue. To
give you a perfect example, a discussion I had with an
employer, she simply said if I could just get these people to
return after payday. So we are looking at some life skills
training and other types of characteristics found in successful
employees. So those are the types of problem solving, financial
literacy, communication, diversity, those types of skill sets
that seem to not be as proficient in the candidate as an
employer would hope.
Mr. Walberg. But what systems do you have in place, what
mechanisms do you have in place that makes it possible, or
maybe a better term is easy, for employers to get back to
training institutions like yours and say, ``Appreciate the
help, but we are missing something.'' Do you have any concrete
systems in place that do that?
Ms. Shields. We have our Corporate and Continuing Ed
Division that interacts with the workforce of our communities,
in addition to our advisory group meetings.
Mr. Walberg. So they are going out to their workplaces
Ms. Shields. Yes.
Mr. Walberg [continuing]. Saying we know that some of our
graduates, our students who are there with you, our coops,
whatever, how is it working?
Ms. Shields. What type of training do you need, how are
things going. So, those open dialogues.
Mr. Walberg. Okay. Do any of the rest of you want to
Mr. Nixon. Just a comment about those. I mentioned that we
had 200 professionals that give us advice. It is through the
advisory committees like you mentioned just a couple of moments
ago. But our workforce development--and I should also mention
on their behalf that they are in the audience--they are
presenting a career fair also on this campus this coming
But having said that, when we have new employees, and we
hope we have a lot of them in the future, one of them is the
wind tower company, they were the first ones that came to us
and told us that all of those certified welders that are coming
out of the program had some skills gaps. That's when it was a
one-on-one, if you will, like a triage working with them to
see, well, if they are missing something you need specifically
for welding those great big tall towers, then we can step in
and help them in that regard.
Mr. Walberg. Well, I appreciate that.
Madam Chairwoman, I yield back.
Chairwoman Foxx. Thank you.
I have one question I wanted to ask Dr. Nixon that he
raised a little earlier in his comments, and that is you
mentioned working across state lines.
Mr. Nixon. Correct.
Chairwoman Foxx. On the nuclear program I believe it was.
Mr. Nixon. Yes.
Chairwoman Foxx. I wondered if you would talk a little bit
more about the experience that you have in working across state
lines with other industries or other colleges.
Mr. Nixon. Right. This was when the nuclear tech program
became a critical need for DTE. Our problem was we didn't have
the three or four core courses that were required to start that
program immediately. There is a community college, Lakeland
Community College in Ohio, that did have that. So DTE helped us
fund a two-way television system, and then using some of their
content experts from the Fermi plant here locally, we were able
to start up that program right away with two-way television
classes from Ohio. That gave our curriculum committee, our
faculty about a year to develop our own program or our own
courses so that then that certificate would be ours.
Interestingly, the first nine students that graduated
walked across our stage, but they had certificates, associate
degrees from Lakeland Community College in Ohio, and then the
next year they became the Monroe County Community College
students. The reason why that is important and I am happy that
I had an opportunity to say this, that is how much we
appreciate these direct competitive grant programs like the
Department of Labor's. We have 260 welders trained, and they
don't have to be limited to anywhere. It is a federal grant.
Students can come from anywhere and take those certificate
programs, and we still have 100 openings, as I said, within a
50-mile driving radius.
So we enjoy the opportunity to have a program like that,
direct tuition for those students to get good jobs, whether
they are in Michigan or wherever.
Chairwoman Foxx. Well, thank you very much.
Mr. Walberg, do you have any other comments? I know we are
up against a hard break here for people's schedules. So, do you
have any other questions you would like to ask the panel?
Mr. Walberg. I'm sure there are plenty more, but I know you
have a hard break. But could I ask one final question?
Mr. Levy, you mentioned that there was a 15 percent
increase in enrollment in the last eight years, correct?
Mr. Levy. Yes, that is correct.
Mr. Walberg. Have the rest of you seen that similar
increase in enrollments?
Mr. Levy. Let me clarify that. Like I said, that was an
eight-year period. But in the last few years, it has been
relatively flat. There was a jump up, and then it is relatively
Mr. Walberg. Okay. And the reason for that jump in your
Mr. Levy. I am imagining it is because of economics, people
going back to community college to get retrained and retooled.
I would imagine that would be the main reason.
Mr. Walberg. So they saw the local community college, the
local training entity near them as an asset at that point in
Mr. Levy. Absolutely, and just a general comment about
that. Having come from the University of Michigan, now that I
am at the community college here, there isn't a day that goes
by that they don't recognize the importance, the critical
importance of community colleges as it relates to the
discussion in this hearing. It is a phenomenal asset that this
country has. So we should continue to foster community
colleges. They are instrumental to everything we are talking
about today. There is no question in my mind about that.
Mr. Nixon. Chairwoman Foxx, if I may, just very briefly, we
had gangbuster enrollment until this last year, and in all 28
community colleges we have seen a diminishing enrollment of 5
to 8 percent. It is because those first jobs that did start
opening back up after the recession students are tending to
take to put bread on the table. Now, that is a tribute to the
shortage of high skills, because we still have a need for the
high skills out there, but they are taking these low-paying
jobs for obvious reasons, and that is something that we are
Mr. Walberg. Are they deciding not to continue on
developing the high skills?
Mr. Nixon. Well, they will come here as part-time students,
but they have to put food on the table. They need a job. You
would think there would be huge enrollments, but not all of
them are able to do that if they have to get what is termed in
the public's remarks as low-paid jobs. They will just take
Mr. Walberg. Thank you.
Chairwoman Foxx. Well, I would like again to thank the
witnesses from both panels for taking time to testify before
the subcommittee today. Again, I am very grateful to the
community college here, Monroe County Community College, for
hosting us, but everybody else for coming.
Now I would like to recognize Congressman Walberg for any
closing remarks he would like to make.
Mr. Walberg. I thank the chairperson for taking your time
to come. I know all members of our subcommittee were invited on
both sides of the aisle. Whether it is a result of
sequestration and the House's efforts to identify with that by
reducing our budgets for our offices that have impacted travel
as well, that may be the reason why a number of our members
But the fact that you were willing to hold it and continue
it is greatly appreciated by me because in Michigan, the first
state into the recession and the downturn in the economy and
the loss of jobs, the unemployment rate, we also know it has
been a tough-fought battle uphill again to come to the place we
are now where we see some encouraging signs through policy put
in place by local and state governments, but also by increasing
efforts from our education establishments identified by those
here on the panel and others I see in the room that are trying
to meet the needs of preparing people for real-life work
situations that makes a difference not only in their lives and
their family lives but the lives of the community, because we
know the only way to foster positive growth in the economy is
if we do it at the grassroots level, where individuals who want
to take responsibility, to be accountable, to carry on for
their own lives and their families' lives and have an
opportunity, as we all had, for future growth and making
decisions that provide the dreams that is called the American
Dream in our lives, we need a growing economy that starts with
people who are trained, who are looking for their sweet spot
and then functioning in their sweet spot, and then also
cognizant of the fact that, hey, I don't have to stay here. I
can grow. I can be retrained. I can add to my abilities.
So we appreciate the efforts of the community colleges, the
local colleges and universities, and the training programs. But
we also have to identify, Madam Chairperson, as I know you
understand very well from your perspective about efficiency and
doing things without waste and doing things that are right-
headed thinking, and I am not talking about the political
context there, but right-headed thinking, things that make
sense, that we need to be pushing for that and doing it as
efficiently as possible.
So with the information that we have gleaned today and what
we will glean in further hearings, both in Washington and other
places around our country, we hope that we can make an impact
for the future that says to our kids and our grandkids we
didn't screw it up totally for you, but we saw the problems. We
have redeveloped, we have repositioned, and now we can expand
for the future, for your opportunities as well, to continue
making this the country that every other country on this earth
gravitates toward to find the best practices.
So I appreciate again the ability to be here today, the
opportunity, and we look forward to the future. Madam
Chairperson, thank you.
Chairwoman Foxx. Well, thank you. And I appreciate the
opportunity to come to Michigan. This is my second opportunity
to come here. I was here about three or four years ago, down in
Chairman Upton's district. I flew into Grand Rapids and had a
chance to visit that area and enjoyed my visit here. I believe
it was in May, and it snowed, but I am used to that because I
come from the mountains of North Carolina and we had a big snow
last week, and we are used to cold weather. So when looking at
the trees, they look like they do around my house this past
weekend. It is not time for spring yet. So I am used to that.
Having been at Appalachian State University for many years
and in a community college for several years, I am very well
aware of the superb history of education that Michigan has,
obviously. I am very familiar with the names of your community
colleges from having worked in the education field over the
years. I am very familiar with the University of Michigan, and
Hillsdale College has a tremendous presence on Capitol Hill
these days. They have a seminar one Friday a month. They are
bringing in people all the time. I have had interns from
Hillsdale, and so I know Hillsdale County and the name
Hillsdale from the very great presence that Hillsdale College
has on Capitol Hill right now.
I wanted, to save a little time, to say, as we often say on
the Floor or in committee meetings, I associate myself with the
remarks of my distinguished colleague, Mr. Walberg, his opening
remarks as well as his closing remarks. He talked a lot about
hard-working taxpayers in the United States, and I too am very
concerned about that. We have a lot of people who are working,
and we are all very grateful for those people who are working
and paying taxes right now. It is their money that we are
spending for these other programs, and it is important that we
be good stewards of that money.
So our hearings, both in Washington and here, are to help
us learn how we can help the higher education community be
better stewards of the money that is given out directly through
student aid, as well as indirectly in the programs that are
being operated by very many people.
All of us would like to see the United States be the
manufacturing powerhouse it has been in the past, and North
Carolina and Michigan share a history in that area, I believe.
So we would love to see manufacturing come back. We would like
to see the kind of jobs that are value-added jobs be available
to our constituents.
So again, I want to thank our staff, the staff of the
Education and Workforce Committee, as well as the staff here at
Monroe County Community College for the effort that you put in.
And to the folks here who took their time to observe this
hearing, I hope we have helped enlighten you a little bit as it
has helped enlighten us.
And with that, there being no further business, the
subcommittee stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 11:21 a.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]