VICTORIA A. LIPNIC Acting Chair
CHAI R. FELDBLUM Commissioner
JENNY R. YANG Commissioner
CHARLOTTE A. BURROWS Commissioner
JAMES L. LEE Deputy General Counsel
PEGGY R. MASTROIANNI Legal Counsel
BERNADETTE B. WILSON Acting Executive Officer
This transcript was produced from a DVD provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Good morning everyone. The meeting will now come to order. Thank you all so much for being here. In accordance with the Sunshine Act, today's meeting is open to public observation of the Commission's deliberations and voting. At this time, I'm going to ask Bernadette Wilson to announce any notation votes that have taken place since the last Commission meeting, Ms. Wilson?
MS. WILSON: Good morning. And before I begin, is there anyone in need of sign language interpreter services? (No audible response.) Okay, thank you. Good morning. Congratulations and welcome Madam Acting Chair, it's good to have you as Acting Chair. And good morning Commissioners, Deputy General Counsel, Legal Counsel, I'm Bernadette Wilson from the Executive Secretariat.
We'd like to remind our audience that questions and comments from the audience are not permitted during the meeting, and we ask that you carry on any conversations outside the meeting room, departing and reentering as quietly as possible. Also, please take this opportunity to turn your cell phones off or to vibrate mode. I would also like to remind the audience that in case of emergency, there are exit doors to the right and left as you exit this room. Additionally, the restrooms are down the hall to the right and left of the elevators.
During the period October 8th, 2016 through March 31st, 2017, the Commission acted on 42 items by notation vote:
Approved litigation in seven (7) cases;
Approved Amicus participation in four (4) cases;
Approved one Enforcement Guidance on National Origin Discrimination and approved the release of one Enforcement Guidance for public input on Unlawful Harassment;
Approved a contract for Business Information Services and the following contracts to Support Litigation: Two Expert Labor Economists, an Industrial Organizational Psychologist, Translation Services and a Modification for an Extension of Expert Labor Economist;
Approved two Memoranda of Understanding between EEOC and the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division; and EEOC and the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights;
Approved the Privacy Act Systems of Records; the Interim Final Rule on FOIA Regulations; the Model Employer Rule under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act; the Final Rule Adjustment of the Penalty for Violation of Notice Posting Requirements; the Model Employer Rule; and the Revised Spring 2017 Regulatory Agenda;
Approved a Federal Sector Decision; and Quality Practices;
Approved the Revolving Fund On-Line Registration; and,
Approved Resolutions Honoring C. Emanuel Smith, James P. Sacher; P. David Lopez; Bernard Hammonds; John Ross; Arlethia D. Monroe; John C. Hendrickson; Deidre Flippen; Rudolfo "Rudy" Hurtado; Holly Wilson; and Justine Lisser on their Retirement; and a Resolution in Memory of Aileen Clarke Hernandez.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Thank you Ms. Wilson, and thank you to those who have joined us for today's meeting on the State of the Workforce and the Future of Work. Before turning to the substance of my remarks I want to make a few preliminary comments.
First, I was deeply honored on January 25 when President Trump designated me as Acting Chair of the EEOC. I did not and do not enter into this position lightly, and I am honored and humbled by the confidence the President has placed in me to lead this great Civil Rights Agency.
I am also mindful of the seat in which I sit and of the so many who have come before me. Last month we lost a tireless advocate for civil rights and women's rights, Aileen Clarke Hernandez, the first female and second African American Commissioner of the EEOC. Her legacy as a civil rights advocate hangs over me as does the legacy of so many of our former chairs and commissioners. More immediately, I would like to thank my predecessor, our immediate past Chair, Jenny Yang, for her leadership of the Agency over the last two-and-a-half years and the professionalism and graciousness with which we have made this leadership transition.
Commissioner Yang's commitment to the advancement of civil rights is clear in everything she does in her work, and I extend my thanks to her and her staff for all of their assistance over the past two months. Thanks so much, Jenny.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to remember the first chair under whom I served, my friend and colleague, the late Jackie Berrien. In taking the reins of the Agency I will strive to do her and all of you proud.
One more important item before I turn to today's meeting. Last night in an eight to three decision after an en banc hearing, the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit Held, and I am quoting, "The Supreme Court's decisions as well as common sense reality that it is actually impossible to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without discriminating on the basis of sex, persuade us that the time has come to overrule our previous cases that have endeavored to find and observe that line." While I am mindful that the 7th Circuit is just one Federal Court of Appeals, this is a remarkable decision and turn in the law. Obviously, there have been many lawyers working on this issue for many, many years. But the EEOC lawyers have played a major role in this decision including from the initial Court of Appeals decision in the 7th Circuit by Judge Rovner, where she noted, along came the EEOC and threw gasoline on the fire on this topic. I want to congratulate the remarkable lawyering by so many here at the EEOC for the past seven years, not the least of whom a certain former Supreme Court Law Clerk on my right. One cannot help but admire this skillful, diligent, patient work.
Turning to today's meeting, I have made no secret in my tenure at the EEOC that we must never forget we are the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, underscore Employment Opportunity. As I said earlier this year, equal employment opportunity is critical to all Americans and to how we define ourselves as a nation. I am especially pleased to preside as Acting Chair over this morning's meeting, which I hope will begin the process of starting a real dialogue about the state of our nation's workforce. As we begin to near the end of the second decade of the 21st Century, a fact itself which seems hard to believe, today gives us the opportunity to examine the nature of work in today's economy and the match and sometimes mismatch of jobs and skills in our workplaces. We will examine today the 5.6 million jobs in our economy that are currently unfilled, specifically the skilled trade jobs which remain open. I hope we hear from our witnesses what we as regulators and policy makers can do to increase employment opportunity in these and other fields.
We will lead off that discussion this morning with the testimony of a labor economist who will set the stage for our succeeding witnesses and ensuing conversation. Of direct relevance to this Agency, I also hope to discuss the barriers to hiring and maintaining employment that exist in today's workplace and look forward to hearing from our witnesses their views on how best to break down and eliminate those barriers.
Finally, I welcome today's conversation about what innovative employers in the private sector are doing to foster and efforts to train our workforce and reduce the skills gap. By way of public-private partnerships and other novel solutions, what steps are employers taking to promote employment opportunity? I think we are all interested in hearing how the Federal Government has engaged in this area through a variety of work-place training and outreach initiatives.
I hope our witnesses today will tell us what the Federal Government is doing right, and equally important, what it is doing wrong. The President has said that ensuring that there are good jobs and economic opportunity for all Americans is a top priority of his administration. I view this morning's hearing as this Agency's effort to try to make good on that promise. I thank all of our witnesses for joining us and look forward to their valuable testimony this morning. I would now like to invite my fellow Commissioners to make any opening statements or comments, beginning with Commissioner Feldblum.
COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Thank you so much. Welcome to everyone here and welcome to our witnesses. I want to say specifically how pleased I am to be able to welcome our new Chair Lipnic in terms of leading this Agency as she and I arrived at the Commission at the same time just about exactly seven years ago in April 2010. We learnt about the Commission together and I was able to see firsthand her commitment to the mission of this Agency. And I want to note my appreciation for your acknowledgment of the really groundbreaking 7th Circuit decision in the Hively case and also extend my thanks to the many lawyers at the EEOC and elsewhere that have worked to bring this, this law to this point. And I look forward to seeing other circuits following the really quite intelligent, compelling reasoning of the 7th Circuit.
So, as Chair Lipnic noted, our name is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. And this meeting is designed to focus on where the employment opportunities are, so we can be sure that everyone in this country has an equal chance to benefit from those opportunities.
As some of you may know, I've been a very strong advocate of the employment of people with disabilities in this country, people with disabilities are both unemployed and underemployed in jobs not commensurate with their abilities to a really staggering extent. And I have worked on disability rights for almost 30 years, and I've worked with a man called Bob Williams during that time, someone with severe cerebral palsy, talks through a machine and has always held jobs commensurate with his abilities, even when others may not have thought he could.
And Bob often quotes this sentence from F.D.R's 1944's State of the Union Economic Bill of Rights speech: "True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence." If people do not have economic security and economic independence they are not free. It's as simple as that. And the way that one achieves economic security and independence is to have a job. It truly is as simple as that. So people need to have equal opportunity in getting jobs.
I'm so appreciative that Chair Lipnic has spearheaded this Commission meeting today, and really as the first meeting of her leadership, because in this meeting we are starting from first principles. We are educating ourselves through some really wonderful witnesses -- both written testimony and oral testimony as we will get, we are educating ourselves about the current state of the workplace. Where are the jobs now and where are the skills gaps? And we do so with an eye to the future. What jobs can we expect to see in the coming years? And what can we do as an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to ensure that everyone in this country who wants a job can get a job?
Work is important for the soul. Yes, it is very important for paying the rent or the mortgage, buying food, taking care of all daily expenses. But it is also important for the soul. Work can give us a sense of belonging and contributing. It can give us pride in our accomplishments. So I would like our Agency to do everything it can to ensure that every person in this country has an equal opportunity to get that work that will feed both the basic human needs and the soul. I thank the witnesses who will help educate us today as we seek to achieve that goal. Thank you.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Thank you Commissioner Feldblum. Commissioner Yang?
COMMISSIONER YANG: Thank you Chair Lipnic, and good morning everyone. I want to thank our new Chair for her leadership of this great Agency, and for planning this important meeting on the State of the Workforce and the Future of Work. I'd also like to thank Susan Snare of Chair Lipnic's staff and all the others on your team who contributed to this meeting.
We are fortunate to have such an esteemed panel of witnesses today. Your written testimony is thought provoking and timely, and I was inspired to see the innovative efforts underway to ensure that the talent pool is widened and opportunities are expanded in these critical industries. Today I'm looking forward to exploring how we can ensure that our country fully utilizes the talent we have across our communities by creating pathways to good jobs, bridging skills gaps and removing barriers to opportunity.
For the EEOC's 50th Anniversary, we released a report entitled, American Experiences versus American Expectations. We analyzed the EEO-1 data that we've collected since 1966 from employers. The report found that occupational segregation by race, gender and ethnicity remains persistent across many job categories. Although a number of factors, including education and social norms, contribute to these patterns, in our work at the EEOC we have seen that discrimination in hiring and, on the job, are unfortunately still a reality. Fully a quarter of the systemic lawsuits that the EEOC resolved over a decade, concerned a pattern or practice of hiring discrimination. These cases have opened up opportunities for many including women denied jobs in traditionally male industries such as truck drivers, dock workers, delivery drivers, laborers, auto sales representatives and tire changers.
The EEOC has worked with many staffing agencies across the country to resolve significant matters where staffing agencies have agreed to discontinue a practice of referring applicants based on client preferences for employees of a certain race, color, sex, national origin, age or absence of disability. And to instead provide job placement for persons who have not been previously referred for employment. We have successfully challenged the practices of major restaurant chains that categorically refused to hire African Americans or Hispanics for front of the house customer-facing positions. We have also resolved charges concerning hiring assessment screens that discriminated based on race, sex and disability.
Unfortunately, once on the job, workers often face harassment, unequal pay and denial of training and promotion opportunities that prevent people from achieving their full potential. Last spring, we held a Commission meeting focused on the tech sector. We explored creative initiatives to expand the diversity of the talent pool with the skills people need for those jobs. One of our witnesses testified that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computing jobs in the U.S., but only 400,000 suitably skilled workers to fill them, meaning 1 million jobs will go unfilled or filled with workers from abroad if current trends continue. We found that although nine percent of graduates from top computer science and engineering programs are African American and Latino, their representation in tech jobs at leading tech firms is only around four percent. We also heard testimony that for women in tech, factors such as inhospitable work culture, isolation, and a lack of advancement contributed to over half of highly qualified women working in STEM deciding to quit their jobs.
What we have seen across industries is that building diverse and inclusive cultures that harness the skills of all people from a broad range of backgrounds is critical to strengthening our prosperity as a nation. We know that progress is possible, and we've seen America make economic gains by more efficiently utilizing its workforce. For example, in 1960, 94 percent of doctors and lawyers were white men. By 2010 that percentage was 62 percent. Researchers concluded that in 1960 a high percentage of talented female minority workers were not in the fields best suited to their talents. In fact, researchers found that simply improving the allocation of talent has contributed to an estimated one quarter of GDP growth during that period. Imagine the economic impact if we continued removing barriers to optimal allocation of talent.
In closing, we know that the challenges are complex and the solutions multi-layered. There is much at stake for our workforce of the future, and I look forward to our discussion today. Thank you.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Thank you Commissioner Yang. Commissioner Burrows?
COMMISSIONER BURROWS: Thank you, good morning. I join my colleagues in welcoming each of our terrific witnesses today. Thank you for being here. And I'd also like to thank Chair Lipnic and her team, including Susan Snare, Kim Essary and Jim Paretti for their work on this hearing.
The landscape for business in this 21st Century looks a lot different than it did in 1966 when we first opened our doors here at the EEOC. Since then the Commission and this nation have made incredible strides in opening doors of opportunity to everyone and advancing workplace fairness. Today's changing economy offers new jobs that require new skills for this new century. It's critical to our nation's future that all U.S. workers have the chance and the necessary preparation to compete for those jobs. And unfortunately, our work tells us that's not yet the case. It's particularly relevant that we're having this meeting on the heels of Equal Payday yesterday. Persons of color and women, particularly women of color, remain overrepresented in low paying jobs and low paying sectors. Segregation into these occupations and a lack of the access to higher paid opportunities are just a couple of the factors that contribute to the unjustified wage gaps for women and workers of color.
We also know that barriers based on age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, transgender status, skew and restrict opportunity for employment and advancement for too many Americans. If that's to change, we need to address both structural barriers such as a lack of training and educational opportunities, but also workplace discrimination. The Commission is most effective when it partners with employers that are committed to equal employment opportunity to make fair employment practices the norm in their respective industries. Unfortunately, discrimination often excludes too many from opportunities in exactly those industries that are growing and producing more jobs. Research shows that advancement for women and persons of color has been greatest in the professions and occupations where qualifications are relatively transparent and hiring is based on merit. By contrast, progress has been slowest in those occupations that rely on word-of-mouth hiring and informal qualifications so that personal, "bless you," personal networks play a large role in hiring. And that's something that I was very interested in seeing in this terrific book documenting desegregation that looked at some of our EEO-1 data going back all the way to 1966 and took a careful look at what's been happening with job discrimination and job segregation.
It's my hope that today's meeting will help us understand which industries we have those kinds of problems, particularly informal hiring mechanisms that limit opportunities, that we can identify some employment barriers and gain ideas for collaborating with employers and with unions to address these issues. Apprenticeships can be a powerful tool to help individuals gain the skills for new careers and meet the needs of nation's businesses, but, persons of color and women have not benefit from them proportion to their need. We have less data about other groups, but that may also be true for them. Women and minorities have lower than expected enrollment rates in registered apprenticeships according to the Department of Labor. Unfortunately, both African Americans and Latinos completed apprenticeships at significantly lower rates and women, although they had higher apprenticeship completion rates; they were completing them in those highest paid industries lower than men, particularly in construction. And as Mr. Rigmaiden noted in his testimony, nearly two-thirds of all registered apprenticeships are in construction today.
So I took a look at some of the construction industry issues in part because that's one of the areas where we know there's good growth, we know it's possible with relatively low, you know, high school diploma and on the job training to get in on the ground floor and we know that there's more jobs being created. In fact, the Labor Department says that it's projected to grow 13.6 percent between 2014 and 2024. And they pay better, those jobs than a lot of the other jobs you can get with the same amount of education and training, sometimes about twice what you can get in jobs where women are heavily concentrated.
So I thought that was real there's real promise there. At the same time, I have to say we have a lot of evidence about very strong discrimination in that industry in particular. There may be others as well. In preparation for today, my staff and I took a look at about 70 of our most recent cases in construction and, you know, we're struck by the particularly virulent forms of discrimination in that industry. And though my time is running low, so I will not give you details about that, but they are compared to particularly in the harassment case as gruesome and egregious as anything else we see. I'm talking about including physical threats, physical violence in some cases actual physical violence. And so at the same time that there's opportunity, I think there's a real obligation for us to recognize that some of these growth industries and I don't want to pick on, and I apologize to Mr. Rigmaiden for that, pick on construction in particular, but I think we have to be very cognizant about the realities in the job market for so many people. And understanding where there may be growth, but that growth is not necessarily open to everyone equally.
So, with that, I look forward to our discussion today and I hope that we can collaborate together and figure out some of the ways to address this. So thank you, and I apologize for going over.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Thank you very much Commissioner Burrows. I, let me introduce our panelists, and then I'll give you some of the ground rules for the testimony. So, first we have Dr. Aparna Mathur, am I saying that correctly?... resident scholar in Economic Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Thank you for being with us. Michael D'Ambrose, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for Archer Daniels Midland Company, here from Chicago. Kenneth Rigmaiden, President of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. Dr. Nicole Smith, Research Professor and Chief Economist, Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce. And I should tell you, Dr. Smith, that you and Commissioner Feldblum share a Georgetown professorship background, so. Mason Bishop, Principal, WorkED Consulting, and also former Deputy-Assistant Secretary for Employment Training at the Department of Labor. And Montez King, Executive Director of the National Institute for Metalworking Skills. Thank you all and welcome.
Today's meeting will consist of one panel, and then we will open the floor for questions and comments from members of the Commission. Panelists, you will each have six minutes to make oral presentations today, but your complete written statements will be available on our website, www.eeoc.gov and placed in the meeting record. Please note that we are using the timing lights at the center of the console in front of me. The yellow light will appear when you have one minute remaining for your statement. The red light will appear when your allotted time expires.
Commissioners' questions and comments will begin after all of you have completed your opening statements. Again, we are very pleased to have such an exceptional panel of experts with us today. We thank you for being here. And with that, we will begin with Dr. Mathur.
DR. MATHUR: Acting Chair Lipnic and Commission Members, thank you for inviting me to testify before the Commission on the State of the Workforce and the Future of Work. In my testimony, I will look at the current situation in the labor market, as well as the changing nature of work. The U.S. labor market has largely recovered from the downturn during the Great Recession. Unemployment is below five percent from a peak of 10 percent in October 2009, and average wages have started to show signs of improvement. According to the latest jobs report, there are 7.5 million unemployed persons, of which 1.8 million are long-term unemployed. An additional 5.7 million workers would prefer full-time work, but are working part time because their hours have been cut or they're unable to find full-time jobs.
There are differences in unemployment and labor force participation by demographics that I highlight in my longer testimony. The unemployment rate for Blacks is at 8.1 percent, and for Hispanics at 5.6 percent. Further there are significant disparities across age groups. Younger workers are still at a disadvantage in the market, with teenagers facing unemployment rates of 15 percent and those between the ages of 16 and 24 facing rates higher than 10 percent. Some of this can be explained by educational attainment. The unemployment rate for workers with a bachelor's degree or higher is approximately half the official unemployment rate at 2.5 percent. For workers with less than a high school diploma, the unemployment rate is 7.5 percent.
Skill differences also play a significant role in explaining wage differentials in the U.S. and unemployment outcomes. A recent study shows that the gender wage gap in the U.S. is partly explained by the lower skill levels of women and skill gaps are a primary reason for the racial wage gap as well. Disability plays a role in labor force participation. The BLS reports that participation rates are only 20 percent for people with a disability and 68 percent for those without a disability. While the Jobs Report provides a snapshot of how workers are faring in the economy, the report also highlights information on available job openings in industries. In January 2017, there were 5.6 million job openings. Job openings data show the number of unfilled vacancies at firms at the end of each month. As of today, there are 1.4 unemployed people per job opening.
So how do we match these unemployed workers to the existing job openings? In manufacturing, for instance, there are over 364,000 job openings nationwide. According to a study on the skills gap by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, over the next decade nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled, and 2 million of these will remain unfilled due to the skills gap.
The types of skills that employers report lacking in the workforce are technology, computer and technical training skills. This is followed by a lack of basic problem solving and math skills. The issue is that manufacturing in general has moved away from low-skill to high-skill jobs. But the skills gap is not just about workers not having the right skills. An interesting problem with manufacturing is also the image gap. Many younger workers are unwilling to take up jobs in manufacturing because their perception of these jobs is tainted by the image of what factory jobs used to be several decades ago. There appears to be a stigma attached to manufacturing work. A survey on the public perception of manufacturing shows that while most Americans perceive manufacturing as the backbone of a strong domestic economy, few parents want their children to work in this industry. And manufacturing is the last career choice for people between the ages of 19 and 33.
All of this suggests that the problem in manufacturing and in other skill trades as well is not simply the lack of available jobs, but something that requires a two-pronged approach. One, we must encourage workers to upgrade their skills with training in math, science and computing. Two, we also need to tackle the image gap. The unwillingness of these workers to take up these jobs because of their bias against working in jobs that they perceive as similar to the factory jobs of the past.
Looking at the future of work, some recent studies suggest that about 45 to 47 percent of jobs in the U.S. are susceptible to automation. Industrial robots that replace manual labor like welding, painting, assembling or packaging have increased four-fold between 1993 and 2007 and are likely to continue to increase significantly over the next decade. The effect on jobs would be to reduce about three to six workers for every new robot and for wages to go down by about 0.5 percent. We must encourage individuals to upgrade their skills so that they can complement the jobs being done by these new machines more easily rather than have their jobs be automated away.
For, in terms of policy, for younger workers paid apprenticeship programs are key. Experience in states like South Carolina, suggest that these types of programs are beneficial by allowing both employers and workers to invest in the type of training that is needed. The advantage of apprenticeship programs is that they ease the transition from school to work and follow an earn-while-you-learn model. Soft skills, such as the ability to interact patiently with people and work collaboratively, self-discipline, perseverance, are also equally important. Again, these cannot be automated away and will become more important as the availability of certain types of jobs, particularly in health care, grow over time.
Technology has been and will continue to be a boon in some aspects of the labor market. Independent workers are increasingly choosing to offer their services on digital platforms such as Upwork, Uber, and Etsy. A recent survey by McKinsey suggests that these platform jobs are helping workers supplement incomes, gain more flexibility and feel like their own boss. It seems likely that this type of contractual work arrangement will grow over time.
Other policies likely to help workers are the adoption of a paid family leave policy that allows workers, especially mothers, to take time off at the birth of a child or for own illness or care giving. Under the current system only 13 percent of workers have access to paid leave through their employers, and the most disadvantaged workers are the least likely to get access to paid leave. I have written extensively about this, and I'm also directing the AI Brookings Working Group on Paid Family Leave, and I believe that such a policy will help working families balance work and family responsibilities
Finally, we need to engage in skills training and reentry programs for 650,000 women and men who leave prison and return home every year, but have little by way of resources to help them cope with life outside prison. The history of incarceration excludes them from applying for jobs in many cases. They're excluded from Pell Grants, which prevent them from getting federal funds for returning to school and many types of assistance. As a result, by some estimates, 50 to 70 percent of these individuals are back in prison five years after their release.
To conclude, there is a significant amount of work that policy makers need to do to enable the current labor force to access the work force opportunities of the future. Closing the skills gap is key to this challenge. Thank you and I'm sorry for going over time.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Mr. D'Ambrose.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Can you make sure your mic is on?
MR. D'AMBROSE: Yes, it's green now, maybe it's my voice. All right, how's that? Better?
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Much better.
MR. D'AMBROSE: Okay. So, good morning. I'm really grateful for the chance to be here today and encouraged about the willingness to participate further. So, I'm really encouraged by today's session. You know, at ADM we employ 32,000 people worldwide, including 18,000 here in the United States, all of them deeply and personally committed to ADM's purpose, which is pretty significant in that we feed the world.
As you might imagine, a global enterprise of our size reaching complexity needs a steady stream of talent to fulfill our mission and deliver value to our customers and shareholders. But bluntly, that task is becoming more challenging with each passing year. ADM already has hundreds of good-paying jobs we can't fill because there aren't enough skilled available workers for us to hire. And we're not alone.
If current projections hold, there soon won't be enough qualified graduates to fill the roughly 58,000 job openings available each year in food, agriculture and related fields. But if you, if you, and it's not really unique to our sector. In 2015, a report from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute revealed that about 80 percent of U.S. manufacturing companies have a moderate or serious shortage of qualified applicants for skilled production positions. This shortage is only going to worsen as baby boomers begin leaving the workforce in greater numbers and as manufacturing companies continue to add jobs.
The National Association of Manufacturers has projected that even, even though the sector has added 800,000 jobs since the end of the Great Recession, many of the manufacturers will grow their workforces by more than 10 percent in the next five years. And yet nearly 2 million manufacturing jobs may go unfilled due to a shortage of skilled labor. In my view and in the view of many experts, the single biggest reason for the skills gap is the failure of the nation's public education system to provide employers with a diverse pool of workforce-ready graduates. In 2014 and in '15 school year, 17 percent of high school students, or about 700,000 young people failed to graduate from high school. Diverse populations are disproportionately affected. While the failure rate for white students was around 12 percent, it was 22 percent for Hispanic Americans and 25 percent for African Americans.
What's more, in recent years the nation's report card has revealed that less than 40 percent of high school students scored at college or career-ready levels on the on, on the National Education Progress Report. This means that there are thousands upon thousands of young people who graduated from high school who weren't ready to succeed in college, no less succeed in the workplace. The Community College Research Center, Columbia University, has reported that about 70 percent of students beginning a public, beginning at public two-year colleges, need remedial course work to enter. And for those students who go right from school to work, it's often left to employers and labor unions to provide basic skills training. Clearly, we can and must do better.
I can't think of any resource more important than the children of our nation, and giving them the skills and capabilities to have dignity and a wonderful life, I think, is an obligation of our society. Our educational system needs to place a greater premium on turning out skilled, job-ready workers. And a big part of that challenge involves changing America's perceptions of the value of skilled tradespeople. At ADM, for example, a five-year apprenticed electrician can earn substantially more than an entry-level electrical engineer. And this is commonplace in today's manufacturing sector. A skilled tradesperson can earn a great salary, live a great life, doing fulfilling work that employers value and reward.
So, we do our students a disservice when we suggest to them directly or indirectly that admission to a four year college is the only kind of success that matters. I can tell you from my 30 years of experience in the HR profession, that bluntly that's not true, that there are lots of other career opportunities that are rewarding. This is why ADM's so supportive of an effort called Jobs for America's Graduates, or JAG. It's been around for almost 30 years and it helps nearly three-quarters of a million at-risk students stay in school and pursue post-secondary education and secure good entry level jobs. It has a bi-partisan support from directors that includes a dozen current or former state governors including our current vice president who served as its chair for a period, as well as U.S. senators, congressmen and other dignitaries. JAG is consistently achieving extraordinary results with the most at-risk students, which proves to me that there is a program that can work and solve some of these issues.
In addition to help the agriculture and food sectors attract more candidates, unlike some other industries the Ag industry came together and ADM helped found the Ag Diversity Inclusion Consortium. And we brought together stakeholders from all of our big employers, Bunge, Cargill, Caterpillar, John Deere, Monsanto, Tyson, many other companies, universities, NGOs, trade associations in partnership with the USDA and other agencies because we said we are not going to compete over the issue of diversity that together we're going to fill our jobs and create a workforce that we can hire to help our industry succeed for our nation and for our companies.
The idea is to awaken students, parents and teachers in the nation at large on the incredible opportunities available to our industries for skilled workers and workforce graduates. You know, when, when I think about the EEOC's leadership and ability to martial resources to strengthen the linkages between school and work I think doing more in that area is just totally, I think, necessary and really valuable to the economy and to, to the companies and to people. The U.S. needs a strategy for workforce development and the EEOC has a major role in developing such a strategy. We also need to ensure that our high schools institute career readiness courses that ease the school-to-work transition.
And I think that the EEOC could work with other federal and state agencies to help make this vision a reality. I look forward to today's sessions and I'm already taking notes and I'm learning more as we go, but in conclusion I'd really like to just thank you for letting me testify here today and know that, you know, your work is one that's appreciated by industry and my company and we're willing to partner even further to help make the reality of jobs for everyone, which is all about what Commissioner Feldblum said, dignity, which is what comes from hard work and the ability to earn a wonderful living. So thank you.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Thank you very much. President Rigmaiden?
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Got your mic?
MR. RIGMAIDEN: Am I on? Can you hear me now?
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: That's better.
MR. RIGMAIDEN: You got me? Okay.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Move a little bit closer.
MR. RIGMAIDEN: Okeydokey.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: There we go.
MR. RIGMAIDEN: As General President of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, a building trades union whose members are the highly skilled men and women who painted the Capitol Dome and installed the glass exterior and interior of the new Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, I'm constantly working to make sure that our signatory contractors have the skilled workforce needed to continue building our infrastructure.
Now our members do the gritty, industrial work: blasting failing led paint off bridges and water tanks and recoating those structures with modern finishes that will extend their useful life. And, they apply the finishing touches: paint, wall covering, flooring of all types. Now I myself am a floor covering installer by trade. Our training is made possible by a web of apprenticeship training funds and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, Finishing Trades Institute International, our training arm that leads the way. The FTI develops the standards and the curriculum used by local apprenticeship programs operated in each of the IUPAT's 33 district counsels across the United States and Canada.
The Finishing Trades Institute is governed by a board of trustees which consist of both union representatives and employer representatives, and is replicated by all of our local programs. Finishing Trades Institute and our local programs train approximately 15,000 apprentices each year. This training is funded through contributions for every hour worked by our members and our contributing contractors. Our members are willing to divert these contributions from wages and our employers are willing to make this investment. Why? Because they realize that this skills training is what separates us from the competition that doesn't provide training and ensures that construction projects reflect modern building standards and existing structural and safety codes. No apprentice pays a dime for this training. In fact, they earn money while they are an apprentice.
Our sister unions in North America's Building Trades Unions also operate similar programs for the craft workers that they represent. Every year North America's building trades unions and our signatory contractors direct over $1 billion in private investments towards this educational system. To put this investment in perspective, if the building trades training system were a degree-granting college or university, it would be the largest degree-granting college or university in the country. The United States Government is the largest purchaser of construction.
In 2016, the Government spent $22.5 billion on federally-funded construction. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that 18 jobs are created for every million dollars of construction. Using an apprenticeship-to-journeyman ratio that we have in our organization, 18 jobs are created, 18 jobs are created for every million dollars. The normal ratio of three journeymen to each apprentice to each three journeymen to each apprentice, each million dollars of federal funding creates the need for three apprentices. In short, construction spending not only creates jobs, it creates educational opportunities that lead to good middle class careers.
Despite these advantages, we still have difficulty attracting enough apprentices to fill the need. This has to change. The decline in vocational programs in public schools has left students without the knowledge of the skilled trades and without an alternative to pursuing a college track. One byproduct of this scarcity of vocational education is that many high school graduates who feel, who we feel would be perfect candidates for the construction apprenticeship programs, waste several years pursuing degrees they never use. And it impacts us through the average age of a first-year apprentice in our organization is 27 years old. And they have some post-high school education.
In order to create a pathway from high school to a career in the construction industry, we at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades are attempting to collaborate with school boards, the Federal Government and community groups to create those very pathways into our apprenticeship programs. Since 1969, the IUPAT has continuously maintained national training contracts with the Department of Labor's Office of Job Corp to provide pre-apprenticeship training and complete career placement services into out trades to disadvantaged youth.
The IUPAT Job Corp program currently operates 44 programs at Job Corp centers nationwide, comprising nearly 900 training slots. During this long-standing partnership, the IUPAT has trained and placed thousands of young men and women in good careers. These programs must be expanded, not cut, if the Government is serious about closing the skills shortage. And as my time starts to wind down, I want to thank you for allowing me to speak. I look forward to the questions and the conversation on making our programs great and sustainable.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Thank you very much. Dr. Smith?
DR. SMITH: So good morning everyone, Acting Chair Lipnic and distinguished members of the Committee. Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you today on this topic of Jobs of the Future. I was tasked with talking about President Donald Trump's proposed $1 trillion investment in, in infrastructure over the next 10 years. And this infrastructure spending includes transportation, energy, telecommunications and border security.
I think that given the current level of angst and discord that we observe in Congress today, this infrastructure spending is probably one bipartisan opportunity where we can probably get both sides to agree and perhaps move forward. The significant spending increase envisioned by President Trump's proposal raises concern about inflation and interest rates hikes, but it also would create millions of jobs if, if it's enacted. The infrastructure program could put the United States back on a pre-recession job growth path and could create up to 11 million jobs over the next 10 years. And I, I mention this 11 million jobs, and I, I also need to talk about the parallel proposal, or that the, the Democrats have put forward that estimate close to about 15 million jobs. So we have these two competing proposals. Nonetheless, you know, spending a trillion-dollar spending on infrastructure is going to have significant impact on the overall economy.
So, if we create about 11 million jobs through 2027, this will temporarily increase the proportionate infrastructure jobs in the U.S. economy from 12 percent of all jobs, to 14 percent of all jobs. An emphasis on occupations would be in construction, extraction, transportation, material moving jobs which make up the majority of infrastructure jobs. Coming on the heels yesterday of Equal Pay Day, when we look at the proportion of jobs held by men, these infrastructure jobs would probably be about 92 percent of them will go to men. Given the historically male-dominated field of infrastructure, especially in transportation and construction.
The creation of new jobs in management and white-collar office jobs, particularly for workers with an Associate's Degree or higher, is also a possibility. And there is a high demand we envisage a high demand for certifications for welders, concrete strength testing technicians, construction managers, construction health and safety technicians, all of which are in demand credentials. So, we expect that the longer-term challenge is whether or not these skills learned on and off the jobs are transferrable to careers when this construction boom is over. So we expect to have this spending over 10 years, but what happens when it's, when it's over?
Since the end of World War II, the share of goods-producing jobs plummeted from 50 percent to less than 20 percent of all jobs, while the overall economy added more than 80 million new jobs. Meaning, that the entire growth was due to new jobs and high wage, high-skill service industries such as finance, insurance, advertising, consulting, computers, education and health care. There's a shift from the goods-producing economy to a service-oriented economy and these service jobs are producing high-skill, high-wage employment. So our concern is what happens when this boom is over? Will we be able to transfer some of the opportunities learned to other, other types of jobs?
The long-term problem is not necessarily a lack of jobs for experienced infrastructure workers, but a mismatch between the skills of dislocated infrastructure workers and the jobs available, especially at the sub-B.A. level. And I just want to make a connection to something that Dr. Mathur spoke about earlier. She pointed out the number of unemployed, the long-term unemployed, the fact that we were close to full employment and questioned whether we would be able to, to fill these jobs. We don't necessarily think of filling these jobs with the same number of people. It's not necessarily a game of musical chairs. There's some opportunities, there are chairs here, and we can fill them with these unemployed people. The concern is, we need to find people who are skilled for those jobs and not, the unemployed that we observe right now are not necessarily skilled. We have to make sure that we continue to train them.
Over the next decade there will be lots of good jobs that require less than a B.A., but will require some educational training beyond high school. Most of these jobs are unlikely to be in blue-collar infrastructure occupations. Most of these good sub-B.A. jobs are in occupations like white-collar jobs, office jobs, accounting and finance, healthcare and information technology. Through 2024 the economy will create 16 million more middle-skill job openings including three million openings from newly-created jobs, and 13 million openings from baby boom requirements. Many of these jobs pay well. Forty percent pay more than $55,000 annually and 14 percent will pay more than $80,000 annually. By comparison the average B.A. degree holder earns $61,000 annually. So this connects to something that Mr. Rigmaiden talked about, that so many people coming into the apprenticeship programs are coming in with a lot of post-secondary training and they still don't have the skill required, so they're finding themselves flailing for a while before they actually get into the market to be able to, to make a contribution.
So in conclusion, it seems reasonably clear that infrastructure jobs are good jobs for those who get them and bring long-term economic and social gains for the rest of us. But, we do not want this infrastructure boom to be a false dawn for American workers. The challenge we face is building an effective education and training system, to prepare workers for them, and an effective retraining system to provide for successful labor market transitions when the boom in infrastructure is over.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Thank you Dr. Smith. Mr. Bishop?
MR. BISHOP: Thank you Chair Lipnic and Commissioners. And I also want to reiterate my commitment to working with the EEOC. I offer my consulting, not for pay or anything like that, but I offer anything I can do informally to or formally to be of assistance, I'd like to do so. I'd also like to say, Commissioner Feldblum, I appreciated your comments on economic independence and the worth of a soul. I used to maintain when I was at the Department of Labor, and have done so since, that jobs are the core of addressing issues, whether it be affordable housing, transportation or others. And if you don't have that core, it's hard to address the other issues.
I also would add to the Commission as well that I think the issue of upward mobility. It's not enough just to get somebody a job, but how do we assist people with being upwardly mobile socially and economically. And I think that's critical. In my comments, written comments that I provided to the Commission I did so with 20 years of experience both at the state and federal levels, including my consulting practice where I work with a lot of community colleges, states and private employers on these issues.
I thought what would be most helpful in my written testimony was to provide you with a very recent actual example of, of something I did to address issues that you are very concerned about and deal with on a daily basis. I must confess in my comments that I do not necessarily in my work see overt discrimination. But what I do see is inherent discrimination. And that discrimination typically is in the form of access to, education, training and employment opportunities; because individuals are not aware, or outreach is not conducted, and therefore those individuals are not inherently able to access those economically upward-mobility opportunities.
I was asked by Pellissippi State Community College a year ago to help them, "write a grant" for the TechHire initiative which came from the U.S. Department of Labor. I'm often asked to write grants, but often what that really turns into is development of projects. And I put in my written testimony, I am going to read one little piece of this. We did some data and looked at, for these I.T. jobs and this training, what are some of the data points in the community? There was a -- last year a report issued by JPMorgan Chase, and I'm going to quote, "the tech training world is overwhelmingly male and white. A survey from Course Report found that 63 percent of graduates in 2014 were male and a similar percentage were white. Furthermore, the pipeline for many of the top jobs go through 30 elite and highly-selective universities which have diversity problems of their own, exacerbating the problem. Minorities or women looking to enter the field face the challenge of working with a limited network, and I'm going to touch on that a little bit here in a minute, a limited network to find a job and may feel intimidated or isolated in the work force when hired." Really gets to Commissioner Yang's comments that she made.
Also, when looking at Pellissippi State Community College's data we found that, again, a lot of underrepresentation amongst minorities, in particular, in their education and training programs and in particular in their I.T. training programs. And then in the greater Knoxville area, as we see in many communities, unfortunately, the unemployment rates and poverty rates for African Americans and Hispanics were much more, were much higher than, than for whites.
So what were we going to do about it? And what I wanted to share, because we hear a lot about we need other training, we need more training, we need better training, these sorts of things. But what I really fundamentally believe is that training institutions and education institutions like Pellissippi State Community College need to partner with organizations who are in the community who are in communities of color and who represent and are trusted by individuals who aren't getting access to these opportunities. So Pellissippi State Community College partnered with four organizations in the greater Knoxville area: the Knoxville Urban League, Knox Worx, Connect Ministries and Project Grad Knoxville. And when I worked with them to develop this project, those organizations committed to conducting outreach, to doing case management and to helping connect individuals who are underrepresented, in this case Pellissippi State Community College's Education and Training Programs in I.T. with the individuals who are needing good work.
In addition, I also want to and in conclusion here, highlight three areas that I think are critically important to understanding how do we address these issues? One is industry-recognized credentials. Montez is going to be talking about industry-recognized credentials that are put out by national industry associations. And they become really the currency by which individuals who are training and getting skills, enter employment, by saying to an employer, here's the representation of the competencies and the skills I hold. I think it's a very important movement in currency that we help more individuals gain access to industry-recognized credentials.
Second is competency-based education. This was touched on already as well, which is, that if you look at how employment works, it's becoming less important how much time you spend on the job and more important on what you get done. In my particular work, my clients don't care if it takes me two hours, 200 or 2,000 hours. They want quality product on a timely basis. And that's what we need to help focus on in the education and training world, too. Much more focus on competency, much less focus on how much time is spent in a classroom or that sort of thing.
And finally, earn and learn. Apprenticeship internships and this gets to the issue of networking. If you think back on your own employment career, how many jobs did you get based on your networks, or who you knew that helped say hey, there might be a job here? Versus the old fashioned of how we usually think about it, which is you put resumes in and that sort of thing. We must help individuals who are underrepresented in these jobs, who are underrepresented in educational training programs through apprenticeships, through internships and through other methods, gain access to employer networks, to other networks, mentoring that help those individuals understand where their job and career opportunities lie.
With that I thank you so much for this time and look forward to any questions you may have. Thank you.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Thank you Mr. Bishop. Mr. King?
MR. KING: Madam Chair and Members of the Commission. Excuse me. I'd like to thank you for having me, giving me an opportunity to tell my story. And I think it perfectly aligns, seamlessly, with many of the testimonies I heard. So, as I was sitting here I said wow, you know, this is this really makes sense for me to be here. So I want to thank you for that opportunity.
So, I grew up in the underserved community of Baltimore City, and illegal drug activity was very common in my community. And most of my friends had some level of interaction with drugs. It was either using or selling. And in the eighth-grade I was 13 years old and I attended an open house for a city-wide school. It was an opportunity to escape from our zoned school. The zoned school didn't have a lot of opportunities for people to advance into college and other skilled, skilled trades. So, we really wanted to find a way to get out of that, and there was a group of kids, I remember, we all got together and we said, hey, there's a city-wide school on the other side of Baltimore. Let's apply for that school. And I did.
But sadly, I didn't make the cut. I applied for business administration because that was the trend, that's what everyone was thinking. Something where you can sit down and have clean hands and work in an environment that was mainstream media. But I didn't make the cut. I ranked 90, I'm sorry, 91, and they were only accepting 90 students, so I missed by one. It was very disappointing. And I remember sitting with my mom, and very disappointed, I probably cried okay and it was you know, I was only 13 years old.
But, during the open house I met a man by the name of Benjamin Webber. He was my shop teacher. And I got to really set the scene for you to tell you how I met him. So, I was walking around at this school during the open house, and there were many hallways. And in each hallway, they had a trade. And one was business administration. The lights were bright. There were many people walking down that hallway. And then there were other trades. But there was another hallway that was dark. I mean, it was really dark and no one went down there. And so I decided to walk by this hallway, just curious to know what's down there, I've always been a curious person.
So I walked near this hallway and there's no embellishment here. I really need to tell you exactly how it happened. So just imagine a scary movie where there's a dark hallway, and this white image just jumps out of the hallway and starts shaking you. That was Benjamin Webber. He grabbed, this old, wrinkled white guy, just grabbed me and started shaking me and shaking me and he said, I'm looking for a few good black guys to, for this trade of machine. And I'm like, what are you doing? I was scared. My mom was very scared. She was she was paranoid. It, it, it was a scene to see. I wish I had, we had a camera at that time. You know how they have those cell phones today?
So that's how I met Mr. Webber. But we were extremely disappointed that I didn't make the cut, and I remember my mom saying to me, on Monday we're going to go down to that school and we're going to find out if they can squeeze you in. You were on, you ranked 91 and, and they were accepting 90, but maybe they could squeeze you in. But they couldn't squeeze me in. So we were disappointed again. But the counselor said ah, but there's other opportunities. You can select another trade. And I was desperately seeking an opportunity to escape from that zone school. So who do you think I thought about at that time? Mr. Webber.
So I said, well what about the machine shop? There was a guy that told me he's looking for a few good black guys. And I remember the counselor laughing at me, because that's the way I spoke to her. And she thought it was funny. And she said, well we have an opening. We have many openings. So that was an opportunity for me. So I was accepted and I was extremely happy. And although it was disappointing that I didn't make business administration, it was an opportunity to learn a skill.
So, just a few weeks into my ninth-grade year, Mr. Webber made a commitment to me, because when I got a, when I stepped into the classroom there were about 30 people in the classroom, but most of them were playing dice or they were playing cards and they were laughing and joking. And I saw all of this equipment for machining that wasn't touched. It was pretty old as well. Rusty, some of it was from World War II. I remember reading the tags and the year, and then in history class thinking about the year of World War II. And I started fooling around with the equipment, and I would always get yelled at, leave that alone! Leave that alone! And I said, what are we here for? I want to learn the trade. So Mr. Webber made a commitment to me because I stood out from the rest of the class. And he said to me, if you can get a car, now that stopped the conversation right there, he said if you can get a car, and I just went down, but I just listened. If you can get a car in your eleventh-grade year, I will put you on work-study.
I didn't even know what work-study was at the time, but he said I will put you on work-study, but you need a car because there are no machine shops in the city, and there are no bus lines where I want to take you. So I'm thinking, wow, I don't know if I can get a car. But, it was interesting. It was an interesting opportunity for me. And then I also remember, this was in the ninth grade, I also remember one week later I received an invitation to sell drugs. This was the first time anyone had ever approached me to sell drugs. Now I saw it in the community, but no one ever approached me. And this was an opportunity. And it was, I remember the guy saying it would be a 40/60 agreement and he would give me a gun for the corners for protection. I remember that, and at that time I think I was working on three pairs of pants and about four t-shirts. My mother was making about $6 an hour raising two kids on her own. And I'm thinking wow, this could be an opportunity to make some money, but who do you think I, who, who did I remember at that invitation? Mr. Webber. I remembered what he said about that car and a job. So, I turned down the offer. We were friends still, and that's another story to say what happened to that person, but I turned the offer down.
Now, from that moment I worked hard. I remember working, doing anything I could to save every dollar. I stayed with those three pair of pants and those four t-shirts because I needed to save money for a car. And I managed to save $400, $400 to get a car. And I bought this old beat up car from this lady, had her car sitting in her driveway for many years. It was rusted, it was faded, it backfired. It had a lot of problems. And she was so happy that I gave her $400. And then I needed insurance. And I had to go, and I think at the time it was called Mafe -- Mace, something like that. I, it was expensive. I'll put it to you that way. It was $236 a month for a beat up old car, at that time. And I scrounged up some more money. I remember my mother giving me everything she had to get the insurance. And I drove up to the school, backfire and everything, smoke out the back, you couldn't even see in your rearview mirror. And I drove up to the school and I was excited to see Mr. Webber because I'm hoping he's going to keep his word. So I told him, I have a car! I have a car! And he says, well that's good because I have a job for you. So he says, I'm going to put you on work-study. Just two weeks into my eleventh-grade year. Just two weeks. He, he kept his word.
And I have to say this as well, because people in my community, we didn't even, we hardly traveled outside of that two or three block area. I remember he said, well you got to get on 695 and you have to take 83. And I said what's that? (Laughter.) Had, had no clue what that was. That's another story. Anyway. I've got to keep to, so, Mr. Webber kept his promise and he put me on work-study at Teledyne Energy Systems two weeks into my eleventh grade year. Now I worked at that job for my eleventh and twelfth grade year, and I got to tell you it was quite different from what I was used to because they were all white. And I had a high-top fade and I was unpolished. And I remember walking through the hallways and people actually moving to the other side. They, many people didn't get an opportunity or didn't take the opportunity to speak to me, but once they did, we became good friends.
But I worked for that organization for two years and upon graduation, I shook my boss' hand and I said, thank you for the opportunity because I had learned so much, in a different culture, coming home, telling my mom, people in the community the things that I was doing. And they said, well it's not over for you, we don't want to you leave. I said well I'm going to try to go college, maybe a community college, maybe try to get into a university. They said no, no, we want to put you in an apprenticeship program. And I said an apprenticeship? What's an apprenticeship program?
And they said well, this is a program where we're going to actually pay you to learn. And we're going to put you on a progressive wage schedule so that you can earn money as you work. So, I'm going to sum it up because I know I'm taking a lot of time here. I was given $10 an hour in my first year. And I remember my sister saying, $10 an hour? Only drug dealers make that kind of money in one week. So, after 25 years, the diversity, I worked 25 years in the trade and I moved into management positions, and I've seen the diversity increase slightly, but I still find myself or, and people like me, the minorities as a dash of pepper on a baked potato. It, it's still, there's still a gap there.
And the machine, machining trade was a huge change in my life. There are many people like me that could use an opportunity that was presented to me, and I think it's just, it just needs to be visible. And again, I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak with you and have me here to tell my story. Thank you.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Thank you so much Mr. King. We will begin our round of questions. Again, each Commissioner will have seven minutes for questions. And I will get us started. So, I want to direct my question to a couple of you, Dr. Mathur, President Rigmaiden and Mr. King, about, so you all kind of touched on the issue of the image problem and encouraging people to, and what it takes to encourage people to go into the skilled trades. So, I'd like maybe each of you to address that a little bit. Dr. Mathur?
DR. MATHUR: All right, so, so one of the, when I was doing research on what's holding people back from getting into these manufacturing jobs, and you hear so much in the news about how manufacturing is down, employment is down and, you know, we, we, all those jobs have gone overseas. But as I said, if you actually look at the data there are actually over 300,000 job openings in manufacturing. And so the real problem to me was yes, there are job openings and clearly people are, you know, either not applying for these jobs or employers are not finding the right people.
And the issue there is both. There, there's a skills gap. There are people who don't have the right skills that employers want and they're not employing those people. But there, there's also this issue that a lot of younger workers don't seem to want to work at these jobs. And the, the work that I cited was from the Manufacturing Institute and a study done by Deloitte, where, where they make it very clear that when you talk to parents the, the perception seems to be that these are the factory jobs of the past. These are, you know, dirty, greasy, you know, bad jobs and I don't want my children to, to go into these jobs. And so there, I think there's, there's an image problem in that younger workers, if you're not even exposing them to these, how manufacturing has changed, how the skill trades have changed; you know how high tech things have become, you, the image of manufacturing is unlikely to change.
And when I, when I wrote that piece I actually got a lot of, you know, people from industry write to me and say that that's, you know, that is so true. We have, you know, we, we go out to schools and we go out to, to talk to people in college and they, and we talk to their parents and there's just this mental block against sending their children to a vocational education, to actually learning on the job because they feel that, that's not going to serve them in the long run, that college is exactly what they need to be doing and then they can figure out exactly, you know, where they want to work.
But I think, you know, when you, I think manufacturing has changed. It's very different from the jobs that we had 40 years ago. And I think people need to realize that and, and understand that there is a career option that allows them to not do that four-year college degree but to actually opt in for these apprenticeship programs.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: President Rigmaiden?
MR. RIGMAIDEN: It, it's a real interesting question and I think really, in the trades, particularly the construction trades. I think our members were a part of the issue by the success that they came in as folks coming out of World War II, getting these good, sustainable jobs that led to a middle-class career and middle class lifestyle that, they didn't want their children to follow in their footsteps. They wanted their children to be lawyers, accountants, book keepers, and progress that way.
So the, the big challenge that I see is that folks need to understand that there are career pathways in the trades. I mean, like I said, myself started as an apprentice, completed an apprenticeship, became a journeyman, worked at the trade. And there are various pathways that come as a result of that. You could become a trainer in an apprenticeship program. You could become a representative for the labor organization. You could become an estimator for a contractor. Heck, you could become a business owner. And, and there's pathway doors that opened for folks in order to, to advance themselves. It's really a door opening for folks to pursue a career and in the, in the trades there are multiple careers. You can become an engineer.
And in that aspect, what we've done in our organization, and several building trades unions have done; they've created these partnerships not only with community colleges, they have become community colleges. The Counsel on Occupational Education now certifies our apprenticeship programs if they meet the requirements to become a community college and offer, of course, our skills as a curriculum and then engaging adjunct professors to teach other things such as English, English as a second language, those types of things.
The other component on that is to have a relationship within the communities where we work and where we live. That faces some of the challenge that Mr. King mentioned in terms of having a more diverse organization, or more diverse population working in trades or skills that all they have to do is be capable and able to do the work.
Our organization, and I think it was said by, by, by Commissioner Burrows about possibly the continuing discrimination in the building trades. And I think sometimes that the building trades is, but the building trades is reflective, I believe, is, is, society as a whole. The things that happen in the building trades I think happen in a lot of other places, but I would be denying it if the trade that I chose to become a floor covering installer and then progressed to where I am today, my father didn't have that same opportunity. So, while you say things have gotten better, they're still not 100 percent.
So those challenges that you mention, that we think about that happen are out there. But it becomes an awareness. In my organization, we work to try to change the culture that, that our organization has been painted with. Community organizing for real economics, race and economic discussions, one of the other things I do is I serve on the AFLCIO's Race and Economics Commission. And we did that after the Trayvon Martin shooting, the, the, the certainly unfair, disproportionate incarceration of people of color, and it comes to opportunities. And we went on a, a listening tour. We hit several cities across the country. We hit Birmingham, Alabama; Boston, Massachusetts; Oakland, California; Cleveland, Ohio and several other cities. And in the discussion, while race absolutely was, is a key element of that, the discrimination, mass incarceration, but, the equalizer was if I had a job. And that's, that's what came out of that commission. That notion of being able to have a job. But then if you're dealing with discriminatory practices, how do you get a job?
Our organization works very hard at opening the doors to anyone who wants to pursue our trade. There's another element to that. Like I said, our organization trains over 15,000 apprentices in a year, and it's based on the need of our signatory employers. I'd love to train everybody that wanted to do our trade. But it would be unfair to them if we can't put them in an apprenticeship program and have some place for them to work. That's another element. There's a notion of a job in the building trades that it's a job and you have it for life.
All of our jobs are temporary. We work on a project, that project is completed and there's no guarantee that there's somewhere else for us to go when that job is done, hence the term, journeyman. We do a lot of traveling, but we also try to make sure that we have relationships with our employers, with government, with those who would deign to use the skills that we have. So for us, it's really a process of making people aware of what it means to be in our trade, that it is, earn while you learn, and it's based on your skills as you learn them, and also continuing education.
It's not just an apprenticeship program and I'm done and I know everything. We all know how quick technology is changing these days. Our members have to know math. They have to know accounting. They have to operate transients. They have to operate tools that I don't even know what they are. But things that help, you can build a building with a tool called Total Stations, where years ago you would use a plumb bob and a level. It's, it's a computer-operated piece of equipment. So even in the trades you have to be able to pick up those skills. And I have to agree with what Mr. D'Ambrose said, that notion of being prepared for that education. And because that's fallen behind, as a percentage of curriculum taught in high schools; it's not really career and technical education that's declined. Those other programs, like computer engineering and all of that stuff, yeah, that's going on. But the decline of that is what has caused our unions to pursue this Council Occupational Education where we can deliver that type of training so our members are prepared to take on the new technology, because as technology changes, our jobs change.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Thank you for that testimony. Mr. King, I'm way past my time, so I'll come back to you in the next round. Commissioner Feldblum?
COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Great, and hopefully, you can always answer questions, you know, that came before. We've got our seven minutes, so, number one, this was awesome. Really, this was a great, I'm already like brimming with ideas of what we can do and writing a memo to Chair Lipnic, which I'm sure she's going to just love getting.
But, it was sort of striking that Dr. Mathur started with the image gap and the role of parents, right? And how do you get to them and say no, this is a good job? And I do think the idea of actually becoming a community college and saying, they'll still have maybe a B.A. after their names, right, can be huge. And ended with something that was not an image gap, it was, I didn't even know it existed, and I didn't have a pathway in, and again, a parent played a really big role. So I do think there's something about getting to the parents of this nation that's important.
I also felt that in terms of what EEOC can do, often we have tried to play a facilitative role. Okay? Bringing together and just listening to you, I had, you know, you could ask to come to a meeting, the Department of Labor, the Department of Education. You didn't mention Department of Commerce yet, but I could certainly see that. You, and then, USDA, Transportation, Energy, Homeland Security, and that's Federal Agencies. And of course, they have their state counterparts. And then obviously, unions, leading employers and community groups. Okay.
So, what I want you to imagine is, let's say you were pulling together that group. What would you want to have on their agenda, and I'm not expecting you to have the whole agenda worked out now. But I offer you and anyone else in the public who wants to present that agenda to send it to us. What would you want in that agenda? And what would you want as sort of one or two projects that would come out of that meeting? And again, you may not have time to answer that with everyone, but hopefully you can play it in. But I'm going to start with Mr. King.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Can you make sure your mic is on?
MR. KING: Yes, sorry about that. What would I expect? Well, willing to walk into the places that are needed. That, that's key. putting a plan together. I speak at so many different events across the country and even internationally and as I'm, as I'm speaking and I'm introduced to people, we all hear the cries that say, hey, we need, we want to go in these underserved communities. We want to have diversity. But there's no action. No one's actually going into these communities. And if you go into the communities, do you have the right people going into those communities? So, so that is key. Because I can walk into an underserved community and find a good person who just under bad circumstances, and within a few months give them enough skills where they can make $12-13 an hour.
COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Right. Great, so willing to walk in and walking in with the right messenger. Mr. Bishop?
MR. BISHOP: And again just adding on to the right messenger, again, that's why in the project description I gave you why I felt it was very important for Pellissippi to partner with those community organizations, because I, in my experience it's so key to have trusted people in these communities doing some of those outreach and recruitment activities. I would also add something to think about is we spend billions each year on this, the Federal Government does. Billions in job training, education, the like. And so, I always come at it from the premise, well if we're already spending that, what's still the problem?
And Montez, the reason I love his story is because it hit on experience I had at the Department of Labor, real quick, which was during one year in 2002 when I first started we had Groundhog Job Shadow day, and I had a young man from inner city Washington D.C. who job shadowed me. And my best friend in high school went to the U.S. Air Force Academy after we graduated high school. And this young man thought my job was boring and awful. But he told me everything he could about every airplane that would have ever been built. So, I said to him, and I would say now my naivete, have you ever thought about going to the U.S. Air Force Academy? You'd be a perfect candidate. And you know what he said to me? What's the U.S. Air Force Academy?
That was my lightbulb moment that, and again, really tagging onto Montez's story, we have to do a better job of helping people in underrepresented communities understand what those options are. It's, I think, a combination of parents, but I'd also add in a meeting with an agenda like that, we do a very poor job with career and educational counseling both at the secondary and at the post-secondary levels. We have to do a better job having a diversity of the type of counseling we give to individuals. I have two sons in college, and I know what's going on, and it was still hard for me to figure out as they were applying for college what to do. And so I can only imagine first generational students and such and what they face, so that would be my recommendation.
COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Great. Dr. Smith?
DR. SMITH: So I think in, in discussing this, this PR problem that was raised by, by Chair Lipnic, part of the issue here is a recognition of the, the history of where some of this PR problem comes from. There's a history of tracking in this country that, you know, we usually don't come face to face with. Where sometimes, you know, in the past, depending on where you're from and where you were, your, your opportunities were limited by geographical location. And this is, raises something that King spoke about. So, what we need to do is to address those opportunity gaps in high school. Very often we, we talk about graduation rates, you know, we mentioned that earlier by race and location. But what we failed to say is that a lot of these students aren't going on to college or community college or an internships programs because they don't even have the prerequisite courses taught at that high school. So, there's a decision ahead of time that this is not a location where we're going to spend those resources to take these students there.So, some of these parents that might not necessarily want their kids to go to manufacturing; it's not that they're not making, you know, good decisions for their kids, they are making decisions based on their own historical experiences of tracking. So, if we want to address this and we want to make sure that we really have equal opportunity across the board, we need to develop career pathways that don't necessarily say it ends here, we can take you anywhere you want to go. If you make a decision that you want to go through, through the tradesman to a journeyman, you should not necessarily have to stop there. There should also be an opportunity, if you so desire, to go on to the B.A. track. So those, those pathways need to be well developed and we need to bridge those gaps between what is learnt in education, in our formal education setting, and what's required for workforce success. And those, you know, we still address those in silos. So, I'm bringing together those diverse groups of people. They need to understand that we're not necessarily working in these, these separate and disparate, you know, locations, that we need to come together and address how best those courses are. And as Bishop mentioned earlier, industry-based certifications and licenses, competency-based that demonstrate what you're able to do and not necessarily have some sort of certificate, you know, that, that's not recognized, that's not industry based, that nobody needs anymore. You need to demonstrate that competency, lifelong learning, desires that demands it, especially as we move through different types of technology for, for, you know, for these, these new job opportunities, we need to make sure that we bridge that gap.
COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Right. So actually, my seven minutes are up, but I'm going to give, I'm going to use, do you want to finish on this? But I was going to say, I would use my seven minutes on the next round.ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Oh, okay. That's fine.
COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: So please, but you want to say one thing, so, and I think each of you, she'll let, I think she'll let you each say one quick thing if you want to.
MR. RIGMAIDEN: Understanding what an apprenticeship program is. I'll just leave it like that and can save it for the,
COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Good agenda item.
MR. D'AMBROSE: I'd have three, quick agenda items for you. The, the first one, and I travel around the world frequently and, and as head of HR I get to talk about educational systems around the globe. So, I see a couple of, three things. One, I think we need to change the philosophy of education in America. I've spoken to many school boards and learning for learning's sake is not enough. And your point earlier about the value of a job and its criticality to everything we want in our society has to happen. So, education has to be more aligned with careers, career tracks and work.
Secondly, we have to find more vehicles to bring careers not to high schools, but to middle schools. We have to make people aware of the wonderful opportunities that exist. That's what my coalition is all about. How do we get people to understand that great career opportunities exist in agriculture? And then lastly, I, one of the things that I, and I don't know how you'll ever do this, but for me, when I look at government as a business person, I see a sea of wonderful things and -- not focused. And so, they're always competing, they're always partisan. And then there's wonderful programs, and a good example for me is Jobs for America's Graduates, which gets not one penny of Federal dollars, and yet in 38 states has never failed. In every school it's been in, it takes an African American student that's got maybe a one in, you know, four chance of being one of those dropouts and has a 95 percent success rate on graduation and career jobs. And yet, there's no funding for a program, and there's a hundred other programs that have still minimal effect, but not a focus. So, I would want education, you know, values being different, careers in the schools and and then and then lastly a focus on the few programs that work.
COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: I'm going to give you part of my seven minutes of the second round.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: I'm really blowing it here with the time and my first session here as the Chair. So, Commissioner Yang.
COMMISSIONER YANG: Well thank you all for incredibly insightful testimony today. I wanted to follow up on a point that Dr. Mathur made earlier about access to paid leave and how that affects women's participation in the labor force. I, I know that access to leave varies considerably by industry. BLS reports that while 25 percent of workers in the business and financial sectors, and 24 percent of registered nurses have access to paid leave, only seven percent of workers in the construction industry and about 10 percent in manufacturing have access. And I was interested in your work in this area, and have you seen more industries looking at paid leave as an opportunity to recruit and retain more women? And I would be interested in opening that question up to all of you to talk about the thinking in your industry around the importance on paid leave, thank you.
DR. MATHUR: Thank you Commissioner Yang. I think the, when I look at paid leave it's, the one thing that strikes you is that there's so much disparity in access to leave. And that's not just by industry. What we really see is that the access really exists for the higher income workers. Nationwide they're only about 13 percent of wage and salary workers that even have access to paid leave through their employer, and the majority of them are in higher-wage work already they are the upper-middle higher income workers. They're not the lowest income.
You know, you can look at retail, you can look at, as you said, construction, you know. The workers who are typically at the bottom end of the income distribution are the least likely to have leave through their employer. And the reason I care about this issue is one of course that, you know, there's this unequal access by income, but there's, but that also means, you know, what does that mean for the women's labor force participation? There are interesting studies that compare what's happening in the U.S. to the other OECD economies where access to leave is much more uniform and, you know, much more generous.
And, and there are studies that say that, well the reason a lot of women in the U.S. are sort of holding back on participating more actively in the labor force is because of a lack of these kind of policies, which we call work-friendly, or family-friendly policies. And so, I absolutely think that, you know, focusing on trying to improve access, now currently we only have about three states in the U.S., California, New Jersey and Rhode Island, that even have state programs that allow employees to access paid leave.
But even when you talk to people in these states, there are, there are information issues. People simply don't even know that they have access to paid leave through their employer. They are still relying on using up vacation days, sick days, in order to take that two weeks off after the birth of a child. There, the people who say well, you know, we, we could take the leave but we are not sure if we will have job protection because the paid leave itself doesn't come with job protection. It, you know, that you get through the unpaid Family and Medical Leave Act, which is nationwide but it's unpaid. So that allows you 12 weeks of unpaid leave. But again, for a lot of low-income workers that's simply not an option. You're not going to stay home for, you know, forget about even six weeks if you don't get any pay from your employer.
So, we're seeing a lot of problems even in the three states only in the U.S. that have paid leave programs, and I think this push that we're seeing at many states now trying to do it, you know, we see New York is going to come up with its own paid leave program in 2018 which will phase in by 2021. D.C. is almost at the point where we are considering, you know, we probably will have it. So, I, I, so I'm encouraged by this push at the state level to do something. I would also really hope that something would happen at the Federal level on this.COMMISSIONER YANG: Thank you. Would others like to address what you know about your industry?
Mr. D'Ambrose: Well, I mean, I, if you thought about the fortune, you know, you know, 50 employers, paid leave is something that, you know, my company have and most of the companies have in that group. When I think about, you know, the criticality of driving diversity for our businesses, we see diversity as a competitive advantage that we absolutely have to achieve. That's why we're, you know, if you think about companies coming together in an industry that compete fiercely over every penny of revenue saying you know what, we're going to build a workforce together that we can hire from. Because we recognize that we're never going to get the diversity we need without coming together to make that happen. So, as we compete for talent, and the shortages exist, the environment we create, to create an inclusive workforce environment is part about paid leave. So, I think that the issues, you know, as the workforce continues to be, you know, shorter in supply, and harder for us to hire, employers are going to do what we have to do to attract talent. And that's going to include providing paid leave.
So, I think in many ways the issue's getting resolved. The challenge for us as employers is the balance of the cost of benefits, and the reality that we compete in a global marketplace, and managing ourselves on a competitive cost basis. So, every time we think about things, we have to find ways to be more productive.
You know, for us to succeed as a company, for example, we need to find ways to be more productive every year as our costs go up and we compete against the globe with tax policies and trade policies that are not always as fair, you know, across the globe. So, I would tell you, there's a lot of willingness. There's a recognition that it's important. I think for major employers it's something we do. For society in general I think there'll be a push to make it happen.
But I think there's always a caution. And the caution is, we still have to make sure that we provide stability, which, by the way, goes to the image issue. For me the real issue about the skilled labor is the lack of stability that's occurred in the economy for those jobs. If you think about how do we, I mean, my company, for example is, when we look at employment on a lifetime basis, and we live in communities that for the most part are rural, we have generation after generation that works for us. In our history, we've had one reduction in force in over 115 years.
As, so if we, as we look as, you know, our, when we go to hire someone we think about that for life. We think about that decision to create the job. We think about that person. And we think about that it'll be there forever. That's not true for every skilled labor person. And so, that lack of stability I think causes people to pause before they enter the field. I think, you know, some of the comments about the apprenticeship programs, and the age of people who enter those programs, is reflective of that pause.
I would tell you, just on this image issue, just, I know I'm drifting, so forgive me for a second here. I'm killing the time clock. But I also think that if you were to ask the, our skilled laborers in America that work for my company today about their children. And would they want their children to follow in their footsteps? Because of a lot of the image issues that are created, they would say, we want our children to go to four year colleges.
And in fact, they work hard in 401(k)s and fund money to put their children through those programs, to have a different life. Maybe it's because of stability. Maybe it's for some of the image perceptions that exist. But it's one of the challenges that we face in trying to find the workforce we need for the future.
COMMISSIONER YANG: Thank you. I know I'm about out of time. But, President Rigmaiden, if you have some insights to share with us?
MR. RIGMAIDEN: I would. I'm actually surprised that in construction it's seven percent. That that, I don't know where those numbers came from. Because that is a challenge for us, in terms of that type of leave with pay. I can say that in a lot of our collective bargaining agreements, we may have vacation and leave pay that's accumulated through your regular pay.
The negotiation process sets money aside for that. But I don't call, that's not pay with, leave without pay to me. And I'm just curious, who's getting leave without pay in the construction industry? I think it may be some of our employers, or their staffs, or something like that. But I will say that the structural steel and ornamental iron workers did just pursue and promote, and approve a leave with, a paid leave for maternity, for the women in their organization.
And that's the first that I've heard in the building trades. Maybe it's a positive move. But like everything, it comes down to the economics. And we're looking at healthcare, trying to make sure that our members have good healthcare programs, and real access to that. But that's probably an element that we really have to work on.
COMMISSIONER YANG: Thank you very much.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Commissioner Burrows?
COMMISSIONER BURROWS: Thank you. So, I'd like to tie together a few of the themes that we've had today. Because I think it's really interesting in terms of looking at the economy, and what is, workers are facing now. And so, I want to start with Dr. Smith's observation, that there is a coming construction boom, even above and beyond what's predicted, if there's no new federal investment. Yet, at the same time there's this question about whether or not that will last. A lot of people, you know, for the last ten years a lot of people want to work longer than ten years, or need to work longer than ten years. And this issue of an image gap. Because, which so many of you have talked about, because one of the questions, and I think that's very insightful for Mr. D'Ambrose to have pointed out, that there is also this question of, what's the stability of the job? And so, I am intrigued by some of the ideas that you all have put forward, particularly the idea of learning on the job. And yet, at the same time, there are two realities, is that if you go into an apprenticeship, you know, the benefit that it, I think a lot of people see in four year colleges, is that you're learning, so that you can be a little bit more nimble if suddenly the job that you thought you were going to have for your entire career isn't there anymore.
And in addition, and this sort of piggy backs on the point about tracking, you know, most people of color are raised believing that you have to be twice as good, twice as qualified as a white person to get a job. And, you know, you have to have that college degree to compete with white applicants who have high school diplomas. And so, that is not a, just an image, that is a fact in many communities. There are challenges based on age and disability, et cetera.
And so, given those two realties, that one obviously affects everyone, the other is particularly with respect to persons of color, how do we then have people -- Because I think the suggestion of moving towards a, you know, apprenticeship and "learn as you earn" kind of idea is important and valuable. But for those who are saying, look, I don't want to be taking this leap into something that, you know, five, ten years this employer doesn't need me anymore, and I'm stuck with nothing, right. That is, I think, forefront in many people's minds.
So, while education for its own sake is not necessarily the only thing you need, I think you still need that, particularly when you factor in discrimination. So, I'd be grateful if you all could address that. And I think I would start with Dr. Mathur, and maybe we can sort of work down. Thanks.
DR. MATHUR: I think that's a great point that you raise, that we need this general sort of skills as well, instead of -- And I think that's what's holding a lot of parents back, that we, do we want our children to be specializing at a very young age in this particular, you know, skill trade, and then realizing maybe, you know, ten years down the line that the job doesn't exist?
I think that's a very valid concern that a lot of parents have. And I think that's probably what's holding them back. I do think that, you know, one way around that is what a lot of companies are doing already, which is really, you know, once you get some training with us, we will pay for you to go to college; we'll pay for you to maybe get that degree that you need, so that in the eyes of the world you have, you know, training beyond what we are sort of specializing in at our firm.
And so, I think, you know, there are ways around it that would allow. And the way we see it, these apprenticeship programs are functioning across the country. So, I looked at the example of South Carolina, where they have the Carolina Apprenticeship Program, which actually does, you know, it ties the local sort of community colleges with the firms that are interested in providing that training. So, it's not simply that, you know, you leave everything, and you're now on the job, you know, 24/7. I think it combines a little bit of course work in the colleges with the training that you need on the job, which allows people to get a more holistic, I think, education. And also at the same time, you know, get the money. They're not graduating with high levels of debt. And they actually have likelihood of having a job.
So, I think, you know, those might be more viable, and more appealing to parents than, you know, as you might think, than simply them having to make that choice. Do we go into a degree program? Or do we allow, do we get our kids right into training at a very young age?
MR. D'AMBROSE: It's a great question. So, thank you. You know, when I think about what my company does that I wish more did, you know, if you think about the skilled trade programs at community colleges, I'd like to see more job promises happen. So, what we try to do is work with community colleges, so they can fill those spots by saying, if you graduate from this program you have a job. And I think there's --
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Like Mr. Webber.
MR. D'AMBROSE: -- many employers, yes, that would give that promise. And I think it's a wonderful thing. I could tell you, we hire at ADM people for life. We expect people to be continuous learners. That's why we pay 75 percent of all the costs to go and get an advanced degree. And, by the way, if you take an online program, which is becoming more and more accessible and easier, and we'll even reimburse people higher than that.
And we win in that strategy, because what we end up with, is someone who progresses in their career, contributes to the company as a continuous learner, challenges our status quo so that we continuously improve as a company, and benefits with a great career track in terms of advancement, increased earnings, and more responsibility. And honestly, I, you know, I've reflected over the years, as in my role as the head of HR for many, you know, major corporations. How do we create learning and behavioral change in America that gives competitive advantage, so that we create economic stability, and continued economic growth?
When I reflect about how we as HR professionals train people, and how educational institutions kind of educate, I really think that more and more adults learn from, you know, experientially learning, taking applications, taking knowledge, and applying it. And that's why I am, I'm a very big believer in, come to work for our company and grow your education with us, and we'll grow your career with us too.
I think the education will be more beneficial and more applied. People will become more effective on their roles, have more advancement in their career. And in fact, companies in America will benefit from a program like that by being more competitive globally.
MR. RIGMAIDEN: Okay. The first thing I want to say in the model of apprenticeship that we have in the organized workforce. And I think maybe I painted a dire picture of the industry. But what we do have is, we have portability of benefits. So that a person who's a traveling journeyperson can go and still maintain their benefit package, and put together a career.
But I do also want to focus on the notion of having not only the pathways, but the industry partnerships. As an example, if I talk about that capitol dome that was done, there were requirements on the work being performed by workers who had not an IUPAT certification, an industry certification.
We worked with two engineering outfits, engineering groups. One's called the Society for Protective Coatings. The other is called the National Association of Corrosion Engineers. We collaborated with them. They developed a certification on the requirements and specs, in order to be a qualified coatings applicator specialist. And our apprenticeship program trains and tests to that. If we pass the test, we're able to go out and work on the job. That's like the future I see in the construction industry.
The notion of a permanent job, that's very hard. The average size of a contractor and employer in our industry is really 20 people. We have over 150,000 members in our organization. And we're not a big union. So, there's a challenge there when you talk about the size of the contractor, how many people they're willing to hire, and how many people they're able to bid jobs, and all of that. So, it is a difficult thread. But if you're in, there are pathways. And that's where I talk about a pathway to a career as an estimator, a trainer, a representative, something like that. So, it is a little bit difficult. And that notion of a full-time job for life, I can't visualize it right now in the construction industry. Maybe it will come. And all we know to do is to make sure that we prepare and train our members to have the best skills they need in order to capture the work that comes across.
COMMISSIONER BURROWS: Okay. Given the time I think we'll have to reconvene at the next round. Thank you.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Thank you Commissioner Burrows. We are going to take a ten-minute break. And then we will resume for a second round of questions. Thank you.
(Whereupon, the above.entitled matter went off the record briefly)
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: We will resume for our second round of questions. And I will start off. And Mr. Bishop, I wanted to ask you, you have often talked about, I've heard you talk about this over the years, the mismatch in your testimony between the needs of the employers and what's being offered in terms of training in community colleges. And I wonder if you could just talk about what you see is being done to address that, and what better ways that can be accomplished?
MR. BISHOP: Yes. Thank you. And this also will tag on to how I would have answered your last question, Commissioner, which is --
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Hey, wait a minute.
MR. BISHOP: I think it's important to understand, well, it's important to understand a couple of things right now. And actually, Mr. Rigmaiden touched on this in an earlier comment. College as we think about, traditional college is a time-based system. It's credits. You take a, you sit in class a certain amount, and you do a certain amount of homework, you get three credit hours, four credit hours. It's a time-based system.
Many workforce training programs are competency based systems. It's what you know, it's what you learn. It's a demonstration of competency. And you get an industry credential, or that sort of thing. A number of workforce training programs may at a community college be either noncredit or credit. So, what becomes really important, and I push a lot of community colleges I work with to really be aggressive in this area, are a couple of things. One, something called prior learning assessment, where you can go into a community college, and if you can demonstrate that say you have a NIMS Machining 1 credential, that through a recognized methodology like the American Council on Education, that will translate to credit.
The other important part of this is articulation. Again, that you can, you know, if you're through a union program, apprenticeship program, and you're getting the related training as part of that, that that related training can articulate to credit. Those become very, very critical in my estimation, around trying to merge this notion of workforce training and education. And again, promote upward mobility.
So, what that means is that, say you train as a machinist. It doesn't mean you're trapped as a machinist if you're then getting credit. What it means is that as you're getting credit, maybe getting an associate's degree, maybe then ultimately getting a bachelor's degree, you now qualify maybe for management positions, or those sorts of things. And so, those are the kinds of things I've been working with community colleges on.
One of the other things I'd like to mention too, and this really gets to some of Mike's comments too, is the idea of industry recognized credentials. One of the things I think we really need to work on, especially with smaller and middle sized employers is, we have to work on both the demand and supply side of this, and make sure we're all talking the same language.
Community colleges are working with the Department of Labor and others around creating training programs, promoting the idea of credit and articulation through workforce training, and those sorts of things, and embedding industry recognized credentials into their educational pathways. We also have to make sure employers in their recruitment and hiring practices are also talking that same language. That they use industry recognized credentials in their recruitment position descriptions. And there's still a lot of work in that area to be done.
The larger employers I think understand a lot of this now, and are really working with community colleges, industry associations, unions, and others. There are a lot, and a lot of small and mid-size employers all over the United States that are still kind of out of the conversation, so to speak, around this. So, bridging those gaps I think become really important.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Okay. Thank you. And Dr. Mathur, a question I have for you. You talk about in your testimony the difference between the spatial gap and the racial gap. And I wonder if you could address that. And particularly, as Mr. King was talking about, where he grew up, and not knowing, you know, even how to, you know, traveling far beyond the neighborhood where he grew up. If you could address that? And both for inner cities, and then also in rural areas.
DR. MATHUR: Yes. Thank you for that question. So, I think one of the reasons why we think a lot of minority communities are left out of certain job opportunities is because of residential segregation. Essentially the idea being that if you're living away from places where the jobs are, or the, you know, the big city centers, you're less likely to have access to those opportunities. You don't hear about them. At the same time, you don't have the networks of people who would, you know, recommend you to certain job opportunities or, you know, be, have friends who would tell you, I could recommend you for this job. And as economists we typically think of that as sort of a spatial mismatch, in the sense that it's really the limitations of geography, a limitation of space that are driving the lack of these opportunities. But I think an interesting study that just came out a few years ago also says that even if we find blacks living in the same areas as whites, and having access to the same opportunities, somehow, you know; even with those types of skills they're not getting into the jobs that they should be getting into. So, they're disproportionately less likely to get jobs, even if they have the same skills as somebody who's white.
And, you know, the study doesn't really say, well, it's discrimination, you know. It could be, it could still be that they just don't have the right networks, you know. Sometimes it's all about who you know, even if you're living in the same area, you have the right skills, you have the same education. Maybe it's about just not having the right connections. And so, it's possible that that's driving it.
But that's what they call the racial mismatch, as opposed to simply, you know, it's not just about where you live, or how far you live away from jobs. It's also a lot about, who you know and about, you know, just being part of the community that might not have access to the same kind of, you know, social networks that other communities do.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: And can I ask, and Mr. King, you touched on this. That I think you've done some work about the transportation problem?
DR. MATHUR: Right.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: And for people getting to jobs?
DR. MATHUR: Right.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: And if you could just address that a little bit.
DR. MATHUR: Yes.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: And maybe Mr. Rigmaiden if you could too for your workers.
DR. MATHUR: And that's, so that's the other issue. So, if you're living away from, you know, the places where the jobs are, I think one improvement that you could do is simply improve access to a transportation opportunity, so people to be able to commute from the areas where they live to the areas where there is work. That's not just, I think critical for later ages when you're actually applying for jobs. I think it's equally important when you're looking at schooling, and how sort of disadvantaged children, children growing up in disadvantaged communities and minority communities don't have access to the good schools that might exist just right outside their communities, where, you know, where they live.
And I think, you know, trying to promote, expand opportunity by either allowing them to, either through a lottery system or, you know, other opportunities, allowing them to access the good schools that might exist right outside their residential area, I think is important as well. So, improving access, either through transportation, either through, you know, better schooling opportunities, I think is key to that upward mobility that we want to see later in life.
MR. RIGMAIDEN: Okay.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: I'm out of time. But I'll give you ten seconds.
MR. RIGMAIDEN: Okay. Make it 30, you got a deal.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Okay. It's a deal.
MR. RIGMAIDEN: So, two things, two things. Our job corps program, and trying to get work for folks who are in urban area. The one thing about apprenticeship, and being a journeyperson in the building trades is, you must have transportation. A person, as an example, could get a job, get in an apprenticeship program, working on an urban project. They live in the urban area. But the problem that happens, if they don't have transportation when that project is done, they're essentially done. And that's a challenge that has to be faced. And that's what we try to train our members, our new employees, that you've got to get wheels, because the work isn't always going to be in the urban hub. The same thing with our job corps students, come from maybe urban areas, or from areas that are rural. And to get to a job you must have a car. And that's the biggest challenge that our students that come out of a job corps program face. And we try to do things, like work with automobile dealerships, work with folks, charities, et cetera, to make sure that those youngsters when they come out, that they have wheels. But that's a huge issue.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Commissioner Feldblum.
COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Great. Thanks. Again, you know, I have a whole bunch of ideas. I'm like, why don't we have like the system of donating your used car directly? I have a car I'm hoping that I can, you know --
MR. RIGMAIDEN: Those are some of the things that I would do.
COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Right. So, okay. So, Mr. King I think you had a very striking visual on the dash of pepper on the white mashed potato. And I think obviously, we're still seeing that. And, you know, you're saying, and Mr. Webber said, I'm here looking for a few good black men. Maybe we wouldn't recommend that he say it that way right now, as opposed to we're looking to expand our diversity.
The fact is, he came to that open house where he knew there were going to be probably a lot of black folks. And he had a mission, right? The thing is, you also noted that when you got there, it was like all white. And you're clearly a very resilient person. We have found, and this is in the harassment prevention effort that Chair Lipnic and I worked on for about 18 months, that, one of the risk factors for harassment is coming into a non-diverse workplace.
Of course, you've got to start somewhere, you know. There's got to just be, you're not going to get a mass of pepper right away, you know. It's going to come in slowly, right? So, this is really for Mr. Rigmaiden and Mr. D'Ambrose. There is harassment. That's the overt discrimination that happens sort of on top of the structural discrimination, which we've spent time on. So, do you have any ideas about how union leadership can play a role in making people feel included, and not just hired? Safe, and not just there?
And again, for, and then for Mr. D'Ambrose, I'm wondering if you're nationwide enough that you have access to diverse populations. And if so, how do you deal with this issue of inclusion?
MR. RIGMAIDEN: For me in my organization it's about real advocacy. And I have to admit, it's a culture change that we're trying to have in our organization. It's not fast. But some of the things, well, the things that we are doing is, we do training. We have these serious, what I call deep elevator drops into what makes us tick. What's the notion? What is white privilege? What is the lack of privilege for persons of color, or immigrants? How does that all fit? Am I a racist? I don't know. Maybe I am. But am I aware? And we try to work and create awareness. And we do that through training.
We just did a session with our leaders, our district council leaders and their senior staff to try to get to that. And it's amazing, when you do a test, I'll just call it loosely, a four-corner test. When you talk about culture and entitlement, well, if you go to 1619, people who look like me came to this country, or what was North America either in the hull of a ship or maybe as an indentured servant.
There's other folks that are in my organization from different cultures. And because they look a little bit different, have a different pigmentation, they've come here in 1930 as an immigrant. But they seemed to have more opportunity to advance as someone who looked like me. And that's the real truth of it. So, an awareness of where you are and where you come from is great, but you have to celebrate that and acknowledge that. And someone has an opportunity. If they can do the work, they do the work. And they get the opportunity. And we haven't been good at that. And like I said, it's way beyond late. That's what we're working on, to try to create at least an awareness. So folks understand that, hey, if you're here, and you can do the work, you're just as good as anybody else.
COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: All right. Mr. D'Ambrose.
MR. D'AMBROSE: Thank you. You know, I think one of the things about, you know, ensuring that we have the ability to compete globally is, as I've said before, having a diverse team, a diverse workforce. So, one of the things that I, I know this is the Chair's question. But I want to take just ten seconds. So, I'm already beating the clock up, so forgive me.
But, you know, one of the things we do as a company, which I think, I wish more companies did. Jobs for America's graduate program, which you can tell I already love that program; it deals with the really, truly at risk kids in high schools all across America. My company guarantees an in-person interview to every Job graduate. And I think the system itself of applying for a job today is part of an issue that really, it's just another hurdle to overcome for someone who's never really found the system. So, they come from an environment where they don't maybe know about the jobs that exist. They send an application in with maybe the wrong words, or the wrong, to the wrong job. And before you know it they don't get a job. An interview gives our HR professionals an opportunity to both assess and coach. And so, someone who really wants a job, maybe it's not the job they applied for, more likely it's another job that we end up saying, you know what, you should apply for X. And before you know it, good things happen. So, that's just a quick comment I think things employers could do more actively.
But the question on, you know, diversity inclusion, I mean, I think I'm going, I'll spend the rest of my life working on it. And I think I'll never be satisfied with the results I've gotten. I can tell you that my company, and I think, when I think about what works for all the employers I've worked for, it starts at the top. So, I can tell you that my Board that represents our shareholders is absolutely committed to diversity. We talk about it at every single Board Meeting. They talk about it, about their makeup. And they lead by example in both the actions that they take on their own membership, and the words that they share with us, in terms of what they expect from management.
We as a management team, you know, there are diversity councils at companies. Mine is led by the most important person in my company, my CEO. And our entire executive team is our diversity council. And we talk about diversity, you know, on a regular basis. We have set some guidelines for ourselves, because we're frustrated about our progress. If you looked at where we recruit from, and where we don't have the availability of talent, I could tell you, we look for ag engineers. We go to the, you know, the ag universities who are part of this consortium. And what we find is that including women they have less than two percent of the population that's diverse. And by the way, those kids don't want to work in agriculture. Those graduates go work for energy and other industries. And we can't even attract them to our businesses. So, we have some real hurdles to overcome. And we're working hard at it. We have now committed that for every open position we have, we're going to have a diverse candidate slate. And we're going to make sure that they're qualified candidates. And we're working hard at that.
I can tell you, we have now trained for years, every single colleague in our company, 32,000 people in every country, about diversity and inclusion, and its criticality to our business' success. And it's a commitment we make every day. To be honest with you, it's a journey we're going to be on every day. I, you know, I grew up in New York City at a large public high school that was diverse. We didn't think about diversity. We thought about good kids and bad kids. Nobody ever thought about any of the other issues that now we've tried to measure and look for.
I hope someday that I can work in an environment and in a country where that's just it. That we're all the same. We all have opportunities. And it's, you know, we're just different in other ways. So, I wish I had the magic formula too. I wish I could tell you, here's the three bullets that work all the time. I can tell you that every single quarter we're looking at new ways, we're benchmarking with other companies, we're listening, we're learning, we're looking at other studies.
And I can tell you this, I don't think it would happen without the industry coalition that we've created. You know, when we go as an employer coalition to Purdue and say, by the way, in the last six years, in the last four years combined as employers we've given you six million dollars in funding. And if you want any more money forward, please make sure your program's diverse. We did that to the Future Farmers of America. We did that to other groups. And as a coalition of employers, we've now gotten their attention. Because we said, you know what, we're not going to continue to fund programs that are just white males. That's just not happening. I'm sorry I'm overtime.
COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Thank you so much.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Commissioner Yang?
COMMISSIONER YANG: Thank you. We've seen that many rural and urban communities are facing many of the same challenges, in terms of lack of access to opportunities. And President Rigmaiden mentioned the specific issue of lack of transportation. And Mr. King, you mentioned that you haven't seen as many companies as you would like making those real inroads and investments in underserved communities.
Mr. Bishop, you highlighted some effective community partnerships with education and community groups to do that. What do you think needs to be done to encourage more employers to invest in these communities? Mr. King?
MR. KING: I don't know if it's the employers, or if it's the parents. We talked about, I mentioned my mom, and how she was inspirational in my life. But she didn't, I mean, she barely graduated high school. And she didn't know much about any of the other programs. She just had the will and the desire for her kids to be successful. But we talked about, you know, employer involvement, but also the parent involvement of, how can we change the trend of our thinking and our perception.
And so, I just want to make this one example of what I've seen throughout the country. I'll sit, and I'll talk with employers. And I'll, and they're all advocates of this closing the skills gap in manufacturing. So, I'll say, raise your hand if you have kids at a decision making stage in their lives. And they'll raise their hands. And then I'll say, okay, so tell me, how many of your kids are moving towards a career in manufacturing? And then the hands come down.
See? So, they're in the trade, and they're talking the language, they're speaking the same message. But their kids are going in a different direction. So, you got to believe it. And it's got to be in your heart. So, I think that's where it starts, with the employers to really believe it and push it. And I think that's where the difference comes.
COMMISSIONER YANG: Thank you. Mr. Bishop?
MR. BISHOP: Yes. I think piggy backing on that too is, we, yes, we have to use different language. I mean, I think a lot of times when we hear speeches we use the word college. And I think, if you look at the data about how many start "college", and don't persist, or drop back out and look for, end up in a skilled trade kind of thing, we almost, I think, in our country and in our various cultures have to be willing to "give permission" to young people, to say, it's okay to pursue your passion. If that passion takes you into machining or painting, or something else, that, it's, that's great. You'll make a great, you'll have a great career and do well.
I think in terms of your specific question, again, I think sometimes I probably think of these things much too simplistically. But what I see is, again, at the federal, state and local levels, a lot of money being put into these various education, training, employment, re-employment programs. It was kind of the big maze I think that Mike mentioned earlier. And again, just like with the one example I gave, and it's almost like we have to approach this community by community. We have to relate, help relationship build.
I think that's one of the things I try to do in my day to day work, is how do I bring entities together? For instance, you already have Urban League. You already have other organizations serving individuals in these communities. We have to bring that together with education, with employers. It has to be that relationship that attacks this issue, I think. And I think the more we can try to do that in rural communities, in urban communities, I think the more success we'll have.
We've got to get away from kind of what I think is a bit of a silo approach to all of this. We'll send money to a community college and say, address this training. We'll send money to a registered apprenticeship program and say, do this. We'll send money to the Job Corps. We'll send money to, community based organizations will get funds, again, at the state and local level. But it's like never the groups shall meet, in too many cases, I think. So, that's one of the things I try to do is, how do I bring these groups together and relationship build, and expose them to each other?
COMMISSIONER YANG: Thank you. Dr. Mathur, I wanted to follow-up on a point that you made about the increasing automation of many jobs, up to 45 to 47 percent being susceptible to automation. And I know I don't have a lot of time, and this could be the subject of its own Commission meeting. But I was interested in hearing more about your thoughts on the impact on that, and particularly artificial intelligence, on the future of work. And what that means for work, preparing our workforce for the future.
DR. MATHUR: That's right. And, you know, we've seen more and more work coming out that, basically suggesting that a lot of low skill jobs -- So you know, if you categorize jobs into middle, low, and high skill, it's these middle and low skill jobs now that are the most susceptible to automation. And the study that I mentioned in my testimony is basically saying, well, look at these, you know, welders and, you know, these jobs in manufacturing that will, maybe 20 years down the line not even require a person to operate them. These are just robots that are doing everything themselves. These are not complements to workers. And they're, you know, if you actually started getting these robots in place, then you could basically substitute three to five workers for one robot. And I think the real worry to me is the impact of that on the lower skill, you know, the lower end jobs. Those workers are already the least skilled. Their ability to transition into a middle skill job or a high skill job is very limited, you know, for whatever reasons that have them in low skill jobs in the first place. And I think we really need a plan, a transition plan for how do we help these workers continue to remain relevant to the economy. As Chair Lipnic said, you know, work is dignity.
You know, our President, Arthur Brooks, makes the same point about the dignity deficit, about people who don't have a job. It's not just about not having a paycheck. It's about losing your sense of dignity. And I think that's especially true for people at the lower end who are already struggling, and who are already trying to figure out where they fit in the economy. So, I think skill upgradation for them is key.
And whether that's done through apprenticeships, whether that means investments in basic education, you know, I think we need to start now. And we need to realize that this is a very real possibility, that a lot of these jobs will eventually go away. They're not going offshore, they're just going away. And we need to recognize that.
COMMISSIONER YANG: Thank you. Anyone else in 20 seconds or less?
MR. RIGMAIDEN: Twenty seconds. That notion of technology, and right now, as far as in my trade, modular buildings are constructed, where basically what's happened, they're built somewhere else, and they can actually be brought in on a flatbed truck and just put together like blocks. So, the technology does change. And this is really a question for me. Because I'm curious about the future and how, what the technology does. We just try to train to whatever's coming. We're reacting. But for me to have a vision on what's coming, I just don't know. I mean, it's interesting. Michael, you were talking about when you started as a welder. Well, right now today welders are in huge demand.
MR. D'AMBROSE: Right.
MR. RIGMAIDEN: But how long is it going to last? But, we just try to work, and try to see the future as it's coming at us. I wish we could view it better. But it's, I think sessions like this that provide me some help to be able to look.
MR. D'AMBROSE: Can I have ten seconds just to --
COMMISSIONER YANG: Okay.
MR. D'AMBROSE: I promise. Just, I just want to make a point about technology.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Dr. Smith as well.
MR. D'AMBROSE: Because it's something I think a lot about. Because, you know, just don't miss this if I could. Technology is not about just robotics. It's also about how we learn, and how we train people. And if you looked at the advances just in my career, about how we are now training the workforce, giving them new capabilities, and new skills, I have a lot of confidence that we're going to continue to grow our capabilities.
You know, for example, Mackenzie's done some studies on just our own K through 12 education, and are actually testing in now four countries, a program that takes that K through 12 education in half, with higher retention and greater learning. And so, my belief is, that part of the answer to what happens with automation will be new capabilities and skills that we now have new methods to teach and learn.
COMMISSIONER YANG: Thank you.
DR. SMITH: So, I think we spend so much time talking about the fact that automation is going to, you know, get rid of our jobs, and we're going to lose half of our jobs to automation. And for the last ten or 15 years we've been talking about the hollowing out of American opportunity, the hollowing out of middle skill jobs.
We've spoken about the loss in manufacturing, forgetting that while we lose manufacturing jobs we, you know, in the 1980s, the 1970s, the last time manufacturing was at its heyday, one in four American jobs was manufacturing. Today it's closer to one in ten. But manufacturing is three times as productive today as it was, you know, 30 years ago, 40 years ago.
So, our concern should really be that any job, this is not something that's only a discussion for people who are in the skills trade, or blue collar jobs, or what they're, you know, now they're calling them new collar jobs. It's for anyone, it's for everyone. It's lower, it's middle, and it's high skill jobs as well. Anything that can be easily replicated. Skills by this technological change affects us all. And jobs are going to be lost.
The question is, can we be nimble, in order to adjust the changes? And this is where businesses themselves have to be responsive. And businesses ought to look at their employees as investment. When you're spending money for your employees to go to school, or to get credit courses, or noncredit courses, that's an investment, and improves productivity. It improves GDP. It improves output. It improves tax receipts for that particular state. As an individual your longevity improves, your healthcare improves, your amount of social engagement. There are many, you know, credible benefits to improved education that we have to speak to, and encourage them.
And I wanted to point us as well to a paper that the American Economic Review did a few years ago. Are Emily and Greg more employable than Lakisha and Jamal? So, that's also a concern. So, every time I hear, well, we don't know. We know that we hire African Americans, or Hispanics at lower rates, but we don't know it's discrimination. I just really think we're not having real conversations.
And what this particular paper did is, it sent out the very same resume over and over and over again, thousands and thousands of times with different names. And the people that got a call back, three, four, 500 times more than the others were people with the names Emily and Greg. And if your name was Lakisha or Jamal your likelihood of calling back was close to zero percent.So, the question is, we respond to incentives. We don't necessarily have to ask the businessmen to search within your hearts to determine if you are consciously aware of discrimination. It's been here for so long we are unconscious about it. We have to incentivize people to act correctly. So, whether it means, let me see your books, let me see the numbers of women, let me see the percentages, maybe we need to go back to those numbers. Because people are not doing that on their own, of their accord.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Thank you Dr. Smith. Commissioner Burrows.
COMMISSIONER BURROWS: Thank you. That's a segue actually to what I was going to ask about. And I want to come back to my earlier question, which we got about halfway down the line on. But picking up sort of where that left off, you know, I want to go back to this point that we're seeing growth in a lot of industries, where we know as a Commission there's a lot of discrimination.
And, you know, I'm going to bring up construction. I apologize that you're the only one here to hear about it. I don't want you to have to feel that you have to answer for the entire industry. But also healthcare. We do a lot of cases in healthcare, right. That's a growth industry. A lot of disability cases, but others as well. And so, getting more jobs is not going to mean opportunity for all, unless we deal with that piece.
And I wanted to just note that with respect to construction, we've now had at least two hearings in which we've had PhD economists come in and tell us, we really need to be focusing on what's going on with women in construction, and the shutout. And so, there's overall, I think depending on what kind of construction you're talking about, between, you know eight and nine, eight and ten percent. But if you look at what kinds of jobs they're doing, if you're talking about the real jobs that we think of as construction workers, it's about two, two to three percent for women. And it's very, or fairly unrepresented for African Americans. Latinos are over represented, but they're doing laborer jobs.
And so, if you really think about it, you know, coming back to the kinds of cases we were seeing with respect to harassment. I just have to say, you know, again, while I appreciate that there is a reflection of broader societal discrimination, we have many, many cases that involved physical threats. Roof tiles being thrown at women. That's a real case. I have to say, we have more than one case in which people were either threatened with or assaulted with bodily fluids, including feces. The Skansca case, for instance.
And when, you know, of course, when the black buck hoist operator complained about it, he was fired. And so was every other African American on that job site. And they also fired their minority contractor. So, you know, we see over and over extreme kinds of discrimination, harassment, and failure to deal with it in terms of policies that address retaliation in this industry in particular.
So, going back to Commissioner Feldblum's question about industry culture, and how we address it. I know that there's good employers. That there's, you know, good unions. And so, you know, I don't want to paint, excuse the pun, with too broad a brush here. But at the same time, we can't ignore it. And we've, again, had testimony from folks who came in, did their aggression analyses, and said, top worst offenders that the Commission should be looking at in terms of women is construction. And so, I just, you know, we've got to figure out, love your thoughts on what we should be doing on that.
MR. RIGMAIDEN: On what the Commission should be doing, or what my organization? Because I can't speak to --COMMISSIONER BURROWS: Or what we can do together. Whatever, however you want to answer it. MR. RIGMAIDEN: Yes. To me, it really is about the culture change. Your numbers are, I think are fairly accurate. My organization is getting browner. But it is more Latino than it is African American. I don't know the exact cause of that. I know that people of, African Americans that come into our organization do face challenges. Not all of them. It's, I don't even say if it's area or territorial. It happens in different places.
And I think that comment I made about say, white privilege, I think that's an issue. And when I say it, I think that's maybe like that lack of awareness, number one. But then, when you talk about the real deal where someone, like for example, at a project down in southern Maryland, where nooses were hung over the place, derogatory language written on the bathroom wall, that kind of thing. What we've done, in terms of response to that horrendous kind of crap is, we've made statements. We've gone to the job sites. I had my local leaders go to the job site and say, we don't tolerate this kind of stuff. But that's just an immediate response, or a reaction.
In terms of doing better, in my head I think it's doing the kinds of workshops that we've been trying to do, to get people aware that words, when they say sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me; words can break your bones, just as a stick can. And we face that. I don't know the answer, but I'm certainly willing to work with anyone that can help us get to the answer. Because that's --
COMMISSIONER BURROWS: I appreciate that.
MR. RIGMAIDEN: -- That's true. I mean, that's real. I'll just say, in the arc of my career, to be a person who looks like me, and be the president of a construction union is new. I hate to say it that way. It's new. I mean, we just had our legislative conference. And I'm the only guy that looks kind of like me on the stage with the General President.
But I mentioned, like, my father. He's a construction worker, retired construction worker also. And he didn't have the same opportunities that I had. And we all have a story. And I don't want to take up the time and regale that. It's moved forward. It hasn't moved forward fast enough. And all I see in my time as a General President, to try to pursue and chase whatever can help us cross that. And it's, you know, like I said earlier, it's a job, number one. But then when you get the job, how are you treated on the job site? How are you treated in the apprenticeship program? And that's still an issue.
I think that happens in areas, or person to person. It could be an instructor. It could be the journeyman you're working with. It could be a particular job site. It doesn't pop up everywhere. For me to say that, well, that just happens in southern Maryland, no it doesn't. It happens in Brooklyn. It happens in San Jose, California. I don't know if it's everybody. But it's somebody. And I work to get an, some kinds of answer.
COMMISSIONER BURROWS: I appreciate that. And I would just say, I'm more interested in fixing the problem than fixing the blame. So I appreciate your --
MR. RIGMAIDEN: Yes.
COMMISSIONER BURROWS: -- honesty. I defer to the --
MR. D'AMBROSE: Just a suggestion, just an idea. You know, we talk about collaboration. You know, when I think about, you know, the trades, one of the things that happens, they're smaller employers, as we've heard. You know, if you looked at my company, we have lots of resources to both train, to educate, and to actually make diversity and inclusion alive in the workforce.
So, when we work with our contractors, they have to go through our training before they enter our premise. They, we hold those companies accountable for their actions. And if we, and we even open our hotlines and other things up to those contractors. I think that should be something that the Commission should consider more broadly. I can't imagine an employer not willing to collaborate with the unions in many ways, and sharing our training, or whatever.
MR. RIGMAIDEN: You're really hitting it. Because a lot of times the blame comes to the labor organization. I'll tell you, some of my contractors. Because that's some of the complaints that I get. That it's not just from my coworker. Well, the contractor, he hired me, and he laid me off. And I can do the work. And I wasn't the last one hired. So, that is another element. I'm glad you brought that up. And yeah, we need help on addressing that.
COMMISSIONER BURROWS: Right. Thank you.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Thank you Commissioner Burrows. At this time, each Commissioner will have the opportunity to make a brief closing statement of five minutes or less. And I will get us started, and I'll keep my comments brief. So, first of all, I want to thank all of you so much for being with us today, and the time and work that you put into your testimony, and for sharing your insights with us. It has given us a great deal to think about as we consider policy solutions to advance workplace economic opportunity, and to combat unlawful discrimination, which is the business that we are in.
Lest anyone suggest that this is not what the Agency has been doing for many years, I want to highlight just some of the relief that we have obtained as we have eliminated barriers to employment in the workplace just over the last year. In Los Angeles, we obtained over a quarter of a million dollars for victims of religious discrimination, individuals denied a religious accommodation during the hiring process. Perhaps more important than the monetary damages however, the company, J.B. Hunt Transport, revised its policies and procedures regarding discrimination and religious accommodation, and, established a practice that allowed these workers, and others like them, a path to employment.
In Charlotte, North Carolina we entered into a consent decree with RTG Furniture Corporation, which in addition to monetary relief, changes policies, and tears down barriers to employment for pregnant women. And in one of our biggest recoveries, earlier this year in Chicago, the EEOC obtained 4.25 million dollars for women workers in a settlement with Mach Mining and the Forest Energy Company. In addition to significant economic relief, the companies agreed to specific hiring goals for women in coal production, an historically under represented industry for women workers.
This is just a sampling of the good work this Agency and its employees do every day around the country, to eliminate discrimination, foster economic opportunity, and forge a road to good jobs for American workers.
I would ask all of our witnesses here today, and any others listening, and those who will submit testimony, to think about ways we at the EEOC can better work in the relief that we order, to better pair companies and employers with job opportunities for workers. To anyone who would suggest otherwise about the work that we do, let me be clear, we will continue to fight to make clear that job opportunities must not be denied to anyone for discriminatory reasons. At the end of our work, discrimination must be remedied with employment opportunity. I will now turn it over to my fellow Commissioners for their closing remarks. Commissioner Feldblum?
COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Thank you for those remarks, and talking about what we have done, and will continue to do. I also appreciate that you reached out to various organizations, to say that they could submit written testimony, even if they weren't witnesses. And at this point we received a statement from the Equal Employment Advisory Council. And Madam Chair, I'd like to move to have this statement inserted into the record.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Do we have a second?
COMMISSIONER BURROWS: I second.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: All those in favor?
(Chorus of ayes)
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: It will be admitted to the record. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Great. So, again thank you for both your written and oral testimony, and engagement with the questions. I think it's very notable that we talked about both the image gap and the access gap. I think in terms of the image gap, employers have a deep incentive to try to close that gap, so they can get those skilled workers. And as all of you I think have acknowledged, also a diverse workplace, in terms of being able to make money. So, I hope the EEOC can help facilitate some way of channeling that energy and incentive, in terms of working across the board with other agencies, unions, community groups.
I think in terms of the access gap, that is the knowledge deficit. That's about making sure that there's walking into the communities with the right messengers, so that the best job on the block is not dealing drugs, which of course then leads to our over incarceration. So, I hope we can do something to facilitate that.
And on even a small thing, perhaps we can get a little crowd sourcing effort to donate your used car. And I realize also you have to donate a year's worth of insurance, and, probably partner with JAG, so that there's not only an opportunity for a job, but, you know, you graduate in your top ten percent, you get a car and insurance. And I'd love to see that come out of this hearing. So, thank you so much.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Commissioner Yang?
COMMISSIONER YANG: Thank you. I want to thank you all for giving us so much to think about in terms of the workforce of the future, and where we're going as a country. I appreciate your commitment to ensuring that opportunities are available to all, and to sharing with us some of the promising practices that you're seeing. We know that discriminatory hiring barriers continue to exist. We see the research that Dr. Smith cited on matched pair resume studies playing out across the country, impacting people's lives, and their access to opportunity.
But I'd like to end with a point about equal pay. We touched on that some. And it was equal pay day yesterday. And we know that a major part of the pay gap is occupational, is, can be explained by occupational segregation. Our Agency adopted a strategic enforcement plan this past September that expanded our focus as a national priority on equal pay to include not only gender equality, but also race and ethnicity equality in pay. So that's an important area that we've been looking at.
And I wanted to mention a study last year that found that when women moved into occupations in large numbers, those occupations began paying less. One example is the field of recreation, where we saw that in parks or leading camps, there was a significant decrease between 1950 to 2000. The field shifted from predominately male to female. And the wages declined by 57 percentage points. There was a similar 43 percent drop for the job of ticket agent, and a 34 percent drop for designers. And we've seen from other studies that the average earnings tend to be lower, the higher the percentage of female workers in the occupation. And this relationship is strongest for the most highly skilled occupations, such as medicine or law. But it is also very common in jobs requiring little formal education and experience.
So, I would ask you all to help us in thinking about how we ensure that we guard against lowering pay as occupations begin to diversify, and as we are taking advantage of the full talent that we have in our communities across the country. Thank you very much for your participation today.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Thank you Commissioner Yang. Commissioner Burrows?
COMMISSIONER BURROWS: Thank you. And I join all of my colleagues in saying how much I appreciate the excellent testimony that you gave today. And I know it takes a lot of time to prepare that, and to spend the time here today. So, I really want to thank you for that.
To continue opening doors of opportunity, the Commission has to learn about, understand those changing demographics and labor forces, and the needs of developing industries, so that we can figure out how to best address discrimination. So, today's hearing has really helped with that. I am grateful for it. We also are in a position where we need to increase diversity in the jobs of the future, particularly those high wage skill jobs that are so important in the financial, the economic security of people now.
I'm encouraged that now that the economy is improving, and is recovering from the great recession; we have an important chance to learn from those employers and those unions that are committed to workplace equality, and are able to help us gain that expertise. The projected future growth in construction, I'll go back to it for, just for a moment. And the prospect that Congress might actually put a lot more federal dollars into this area, is one reason why I'm so concerned that those federal dollars be fairly spent. That they not be subsidizing discrimination, but instead actually be used in a way that is fostering equal opportunity for everyone.
I think that also though offers us a unique chance, right, to increase workplace equality at a time when all workers are going to benefit. There's a rising demand for workers in construction. And so, there's the potential at least that we can work together with unions, with employers, to make sure that that potential works for everyone. If there's more jobs, then hopefully everybody has a chance to benefit from that. So, I think we can do the same with so many industries that are growing in the economy. And that if we keep our eyes focused on that we will see a much better picture in the future than we have in the past.
So, I firmly believe that America and our economy benefit when all workers can contribute their talents. So, today's meeting helps us to better understand how to get there. And I'm very grateful. Again, thank you very much. And I have to apologize to those of you who I had hoped to get more questions with. I had 1,000 questions, and didn't get to hear your remarks. But thanks very much.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Thank you Commissioner Burrows. We all always have more questions that we want to ask. So, I want to once again thank all of you for your participation in today's meeting. You've brought invaluable insights into our work. And again, we appreciate the time and effort you've put into this.
Before we adjourn, I will note that the Commission will hold the meeting record open for 15 days. And we invite members of the public to submit written comments on any issues or matters discussed at this meeting. Those comments may be mailed to Commission Meeting, EEOC Executive Officer, 131 M Street Northeast, Washington, DC 20507, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Commission meeting comments is all one word in the email address. All comments will be made available to members of the Commission, and to Commission staff working on the matters discussed at the meeting. In addition, comments may be disclosed to the public. And by providing comments and response to this solicitation, you are consenting to their use and consideration by the Commission, and to their public dissemination. Accordingly, please do not include any information in submitted comments that you would not want made public, such as your home address, telephone number, et cetera. Also note, when comments are submitted by email, the sender's email address automatically appears on the message.
COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: I move to adjourn.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Second?
COMMISSIONER YANG: Second.
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: All in favor?
(Chorus of ayes)
ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Opposed? Thank you. The meeting is adjourned.
(Whereupon, the above.entitled matter went off the record at 12:25 p.m.)