Michigan can lead the nation in Career Tech Education

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LANSING, MI – Michigan can lead the nation in developing a skilled workforce, and businesses are already working with colleges on innovative approaches to closing the skills gap, Gov. Rick Snyder said.Career Tech Education

Snyder during Tuesday’s State of the State address called for changing the way schools approach the skilled trades and increasing collaboration so students are graduating with in-demand skills.

Today, Snyder was joined by Lansing Community College President Brent Knight and students who have worked through an LCC apprenticeship program with leaders at Franchino Mold and Engineering on Grand River Avenue in Lansing.

“We are serious about leading the nation with new best practices in workforce development,” Snyder said. “The skills gap is a national challenge and the state that best addresses this need will stand apart in fostering new business growth, attracting new businesses and creating more and better jobs. The next step in creating a great environment for business growth is to develop the most skilled workforce in the nation.”

Franchino Mold and Engineering is a designer and manufacturer of plastic injection molds and die cast dies that was first established in 1955. The company has struggled to fill openings for skilled trade employees in CNC machinists, mold makers, tool & die makers, maintenance technicians and welders.

“One of the most important priorities — and an obstacle to our future growth — is finding, training and retaining a skilled work force,” said Brad Rusthoven, Franchino human resources manager.  “We can buy the best equipment and the most technological machinery available, but if we don’t have any skilled and educated CNC machinists and moldmakers, we can’t be successful and we certainly can’t grow.”

LCC has worked with Franchino and other local companies to develop an apprenticeship program to help workers get an education while gaining valuable job skills. The community college also recently joined the Michigan Advanced Technician Training program, and offering mechatronics and information technology as part of the program. MAT2 is a three-year training program that includes on-the-job training with pay at local employers for students and results in an associate degree in a high-demand trade.

“We are working hard to establish pathways that lead to sustainable careers through on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs,” said LCC President, Dr. Brent Knight. “Employers have repeatedly spoken about the difficulty of finding workers with the skills needed for today’s jobs. If we can bridge the gap between what students learn in school, and what companies need from their employees, it will be a win-win for all involved.”

Snyder was joined by Stephanie Comai, the new director of the state’s Talent Investment Agency, who outlined additional state workforce programs that will be housed in the new Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development announced last month.

“Talent is the new currency of economic growth,” Snyder said. “We can create a river of opportunity improving talent capacities through better matches of our programs to the needs of industry and our workforce, those in it now and those who will move into these much needed careers in the future.”

Comai pointed to the state’s Skilled Trade Training Fund and the Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program as fresh initiatives that will support the governor’s goals.

“We are making $50 million available to community colleges to upgrade their facilities with new machinery and technologies for their students to learn on,” she said. “Franchino is one of the numerous Michigan companies that have received funds from STTF to train their workforce in new processes or on new equipment.”

Additional information about Michigan talent and workforce programs:

Career Jump Start
In response to concerns raised at Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2013 Economic Summit, the state launched the Career Liaison Jump Start program. One of the most common issues raised was around the lack of knowledge that high school students have about high-demand careers and training programs. While information about high-demand careers that require a bachelor’s degree or higher is available, this program focuses on educating students about shorter term credentials, Associate degree and apprenticeships that are in high-demand by employers. Career liaisons continue working with local school districts and career technical educators to inform students about shorter term education careers – including MAT2.

Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program The State of Michigan is making available $50 million to community colleges through the Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program to purchase equipment required to ensure Michigan community colleges can deliver educational programs in high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand occupations. Awards will be made through a competitive process and will require a cash match of 25 percent from the community college. Applications for funding must be received by Jan. 31, 2015. A Joint Evaluation Committee will convene upon receipt of the applications to review individual proposals and determine eligibility. Approved award activity shall commence by April 1, 2016.

 Community Ventures
MEDC Community Ventures is an economic development initiative that promotes employment and social enterprise. The initiative was announced in the Governor’s Public Safety Message on March 7, 2012 to address crime and poverty in Michigan’s most economically distressed communities. This initiative helps structurally unemployed individuals pursue career opportunities at Michigan companies in Detroit, Flint, Saginaw and Pontiac. Launched in FY 2013, the initiative is funded annually with $10 million of GF/GP funding. The mission of CV is to alleviate poverty and promote safe and vibrant communities. The goal of CV is to place 1,000 “structurally unemployed” residents of those communities into full-time, long-term employment each year. Since its inception in FY 2013, the Community Ventures initiative has connected over 3,000 structurally unemployed persons to employment with over 100 companies. Plans are being considered to expand the program into other areas of Michigan in FY2015.

Michigan Advanced Technician Training (MAT2)
The Michigan Advanced Technician Training program, modeled after Germany’s dual-education system, connects employers with graduating high school seniors who will learn and earn how to become skilled in a high demand trade.  The pilot – focused on mechatronics – was launched in Southeast Michigan through Henry Ford Community College and Oakland Community College. MAT2 has expanded to include additional mechatronics cohorts through Macomb Community College, Lansing Community College and Baker College of Cadillac. A new Information Technology occupational program was added in FY2014 through Oakland Community College and Lansing Community College as well as a new Technical Product Design occupational program through Macomb Community College and Mott Community College in FY2015. CNC Manufacturing will be offered in FY2015 through Kalamazoo Valley Community College, North Central Community College, Delta College and Henry Ford Community College. To date there have been more than 90 program participants with another 200 targeted for FY 2015. Eighteen employers have committed to the program together with a total of 9 participating community colleges.

Pure Michigan Talent Connect
MiTalent.org is the State of Michigan’s official labor exchange system, and is designed to be a one-stop website for job seekers, employers and career explorers. MiTalent.org saw over 3 million employer, job seeker and workforce professional visitors in FY 2014. With a focus on both retaining and attracting talent, many of these visitors were from outside of the state of Michigan (16 percent on average), indicating an interest across the country to live and work in Michigan. Program efforts contributed to more than 11,000 employer account creations, over 230,000 job seeker account creations and over 1 million job positions posted in FY 2014 alone.

Skilled Trades Training Fund
In its second year, the STTF continues to provide competitive awards for employer responsive-training that enhances the talent, productivity, and employment retention, while increasing the quality and competitiveness of Michigan’s businesses. For Fiscal Year 2015, 248 companies are benefitting from STTF and the average cost of training per participant is $995. As of December 2014, 2,529 jobs have been created, exceeding the Fiscal Year 2015 goal by 169 percent. So far, more than 6,000 jobs have been retained, exceeding the Fiscal Year 2015 goal of 3,500 jobs by 173 percent. Additionally, leveraging funding from employers and partners exceeds $99.5 million.