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Joint Hearing Highlights Need to Eliminate Job-Destroying Gainful Employment Regulation

The Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), held a joint hearing today with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending. The hearing examined the negative consequences the Department of Education’s gainful employment regulation will have on student choice and job creation.

“Postsecondary education opens doors for greater job opportunities and the chance for a more stable career path, both of which are critical for Americans struggling to make ends meet and support their families in this tough economy,” said Chairwoman Foxx. “Unfortunately, the administration’s efforts to impose the widely criticized gainful employment regulation on proprietary colleges could severely limit education and job training opportunities for millions of students and inhibit local economic development in communities across the country.”

Proprietary schools are flexible institutions that provide career-training opportunities designed to meet the needs of non-traditional students and the local workforce. Karla Carpenter discussed the key skills she gained from a proprietary school program when she decided to embark on a new career path after 14 years as a stay-at-home-mom. “I am proud to state that I am an American worker who has successfully adapted to working in a global business environment by leveraging the technical skills I gained in college as an adult student,” Ms. Carpenter said. “As a returning adult student,” she continued, “I represent an important and growing demographic of students that our educational institutions will need to serve in order to best fulfill our national goals for postsecondary education and workforce development for our nation.”

Dr. Dario A. Cortes, President of Berkeley College, explained how the close-knit relationship between Berkeley and the local business community helps better prepare graduates to compete in the workforce. “We have cultivated relationships with the business communities surrounding our campuses, as well as the communities at large, to ensure that our graduates are prepared to provide a positive contribution to the community upon graduation, both as qualified members of the workforce and as upstanding citizens who believe in personally investing in the communities where they live and work.” Dr. Cortes also stated, “As new employment demands arise, we have the experience and ability to thoroughly and quickly create new programs that both meet the needs of employers and encourages economic growth.”

Many employers rely on proprietary schools to develop key job-training programs that prepare quality candidates to fill job openings at their businesses. “I am here today because the black-owned businesses that I represent rely on graduates of proprietary colleges targeted by the recent Gainful Employment Rule,” said National Black Chamber of Commerce President and C.E.O. Harry C. Alford. “These proprietary colleges serve minority, low-income, and high-risk students at much greater numbers than traditional four-year institutions and have more success doing it.”

As a result of the gainful employment regulation, Mr. Alford added, these students “will simply be frozen out of the educational marketplace with the result impairing their employment prospects.” He urged committee members on behalf of the employers he represents to find another solution to the problem of accountability in higher education that does not “make a scapegoat out of for-profit schools.”

Chairwoman Foxx stressed the need to be wary of ill-conceived federal regulations during these difficult economic times. “The new unemployment numbers released by the Department of Labor this morning show private sector job growth remains sluggish. More than 14 million Americans are out of work, and the unemployment rate continues to hover above 9 percent. Our economy added only 18,000 jobs in June. That is simply unacceptable. It is absolutely critical Congress do everything in its power to rein in harmful regulations that hamper economic growth and job creation – and we must start by putting an end to the misguided gainful employment regulation.”

To view an archived webcast and related documents from today’s hearing, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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