Michigan aims to give skilled-trade education a boost

MICHIGAN — In an effort to prepare and train more workers for skilled-trades jobs, the Michigan Strategic Fund approved a program to offer the state’s community colleges $50 million for equipment.

“This is another important tiller in really helping people become career connected to skilled trades,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a telephone interview.

In addition to the money for equipment, the state also is offering another $20 million — $10 to the Michigan Works! agencies and $10 to Community Ventures — to help place workers in temporary and full-time jobs and support companies that provide on-the-job training.

To be eligible the state’s 28 community colleges, which are attended by about 450,000 students, must come up with a 25 percent match for equipment, including installation and instructor training, and collaborate with school districts.

The program is part of what the governor has described as his larger plan to connect people with careers and to train workers who are not seeking four-year college degrees, but, need more skills — especially high-tech skills — to do their jobs.

“To work in a global economy today, you need to be able to operate equipment that is far more sophisticated than what there was 20 or 30 years ago,” Snyder said. “Just think of that. You didn’t grab your cell phone when you went to work, and most likely you had a word processor or PC that had floppy drives.”

According to his office, about one-third of the jobs in Michigan are considered skilled trades, including lab technicians, dental hygienists, maintenance workers, police officers, machine operators, welders, carpenters, plumbers, electricians — and farmers.

Snyder said he expects the program to benefit employers and close what he considers a talent gap. The number of jobs that companies need to fill are outpacing the number of workers with skills to fill them, especially as industries upgrade their equipment.

“This is a problem all across the United States,” he said. “It’s my goal is to have Michigan be No. 1 in solving it because it will give us a competitive economic advantage in terms of job creation.”

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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