While Lewis and Clark Community College is no stranger to visitors and events, L&C received a particularly famous guest August 8 – Ivanka Trump, First Daughter and Presidential Adviser.
Trump visited the campus for a tour of the Weber Workforce Center. The Weber building is a 16,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility that houses some of the most modern welding equipment.
“This is the first time in history that we have had more job vacancies than unemployed workers,” Trump said.
At the time of the visit, no classes had been held in the building, but Lewis and Clark opened the Weber Workforce Center this fall to meet the demands of the growing workforce, as well as solve the national and local problem of the shortage of welders in an abundant job market.
After Trump’s short tour of the center, during which she was accompanied by Illinois Representative Rodney Davis, President of L&C Dale Chapman, L&C Welding Technology Coordinator Travis Jumper, L&C Welding Instructor John Zumwalt, Miller Electric Executive Steve Hidden, as well as current and former Lewis and Clark students, she was escorted to the Trimpe Technology Center for a roundtable discussion.
The roundtable discussion was an “invitation only” event. The crowd of approximately 250 guests included Riverbend residents, community leaders like Godfrey Mayor Michael McCormick, and business owners of local operations and from as far away as Taylorville, Rep. Davis’s hometown.
The roundtable discussion consisted of 10 participants: Trump, Chapman, Davis, Chief Human Resources Officer for Boeing Heidi Capozzi, Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery Manager Jerry Knoyle, CEO of Cope Plastics Jane Salle and Brad Schaive of Laborers Local 447.
Also in attendance were students and graduates of Lewis and Clark including current Student Trustee and nursing student Robyn Scott, Process Operations Technology graduate Bobbie McCormick, and Welding Program graduate Charlie Umphrey.
Discussion topics varied from past personal experiences that lead to the current situations of the speakers, as well as the needs of local and statewide industrial leaders (specifically the need for skilled and qualified workers), the booming economic climate, and ever-growing job market.
“I’m excited to discuss workforce development issues with Ivanka Trump, who is leading this issue for the White House, 13th District employers and students, and Lewis and Clark Community College,” Davis said. “Congress and the administration continue to work with businesses to improve workforce training opportunities to fill the jobs being created by our growing economy.”
Coupled with the jobs created by the growing economy, the mass exodus of Baby Boomers from the workforce has brought the nation to a somewhat unprecedented era.
Trump said the recently formed National Council for the American Worker would be responsible for helping students make smarter decisions about career options
while reconciling existing programs and providing greater accountability.
Trump shared information about reforming Pell Grant requirements in an effort to make them more readily available, especially to students of vocational programs. Trump said they are currently only available to students pursuing a Bachelor’s degree.
Her visit to the Riverbend area was the second in nearly a month. She was here with her father to visit the Granite City Steel facility in late July.
Trump’s L&C visit was part of her nationwide tour aimed at spotlighting the Strengthening Career and Technical Education Act, which was signed by the president on August 1.
The Bill is intended to raise funding for vocational education and intends to empower community leaders, increase transparency as well as limit federal government involvement.
The Weber Workforce Center was made possible by a nearly $3.25 million gift from the estate of local resident Ed Weber and contributions from local industry, like HWRT Oil Co. and Cope Plastics, Inc.