Michigan leaders visit Battle Creek for skilled trades tour

Emily Guerrant

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Students at Calhoun Area Career Center showcase programs that train future talent

Battle Creek, Mich. – Skilled trade jobs represent about one-third of Michigan’s employment base, with more than 8,300 jobs currently available. Today, 75 Calhoun County students had the opportunity to educate state and local leaders on the programs and careers they are pursuing as part of a skilled trades tour. 

Steve Arwood, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Stephanie Comai, director of the Michigan Talent Investment Agency, joined by local commissioners, toured the Calhoun Area Career Center’s campus and facilities to see the innovative projects being worked on by students and instructors in program pathways including computer networking, construction technology, collision repair technology and health careers prep. 

Following the tour, they joined Steve Pignataro, CACC alumni and founder and CEO of corePHP, and Mark Crawford, vice president of Community Health Services, Bronson Battle Creek, to talk with students about how the in-demand skills they are learning now can lead to successful, well-paying careers. 

Battle Creek was the second stop on a statewide tour spearheaded by Gov. Rick Snyder to connect with students, parents and educators to address perceptions and create more awareness on skilled trade careers. 

“There is a high demand for people with technical skills, which means tremendous opportunities for young talent,” said Comai. “The industry faces misperceptions and we need to continue to talk about these career options in Michigan. Opportunities to visit with students like we did today are very important.”

Skilled trade jobs typically require education beyond high school, along with on-the-job training, but not a four-year degree. This includes jobs in health care (lab technicians, dental hygienists), maintenance and repair, public safety, manufacturing (machine operators, welders), construction, carpentry, plumbing and electrical work. 

 “Having a skill and a degree guarantees a more successful future for young adults,” said Kris Jenkins, assistant superintendent of Regional Career & Technical Education at the Calhoun Intermediate School District. “We need our young people to have the opportunity to find careers that will provide them with a sustainable income. By providing training in the skilled trades that are key to the success of our county and our state, we hope to retain these talented students in our community.”

Attracting future talent and addressing perceptions is crucial as employers will continue to actively seek skilled talent to fill the projected 6,700 skilled trade job openings each year through 2022. 

“Because there is a high demand for people with technical skills, there are so many opportunities for young talent to find good-paying, sustainable jobs in skilled trades,” said Arwood. “We realize many of the students in CTE programs are already interested in a skilled trades career path, and we’re hoping they can help us by becoming ambassadors for the industry and promoting these careers to their peers.”

The governor and Legislature remain committed to supporting the skilled trades. 

In May, a partnership was announced between the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan’s Talent Investment AgencyMike Rowe, TV host and founder of mikeroweWORKS, and Tom Daldin, host of Under the Radar Michigan to create videos that address common misconceptions and perceptions about skilled trades. 

In October 2014, Snyder announced a $50 million grant program to provide funding that enables Michigan community colleges to purchase equipment required for educational programs in high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand occupations; the largest investment of its kind in the country.
For more information about skilled trades in Michigan, visit www.mitalent.org/skilled-trades/. 

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