Labor and Economic Opportunity
Graduates with rewarding careers explain why MAT2 enrollment is growing
LANSING — Gov. Rick Snyder today congratulated the 46 students who are 2017 graduates of the Michigan Advanced Technician Training program, the state’s innovative apprenticeship opportunity that provides access to cutting-edge careers in advanced manufacturing through a partnership with more than 50 Michigan companies.
“Today’s graduates exemplify the highest caliber of trained apprentices available in our state,” Gov. Snyder said. “Their success is helping Michigan to change the discussion about advanced manufacturing and grow awareness that professional trades can provide a pathway to high-quality careers.”
MAT2 is a public-private collaboration in which employers pay tuition for an apprentice’s associate degree and provide on-the-job training with pay. Students who receive their degree and complete the three-year program requirements successfully have a job upon graduation in an in-demand field.
Gov. Snyder, state lawmakers and educators have called MAT2 one of the keys to an effort to spur more students toward pursuing careers in advanced manufacturing as well as address employer concerns about talent shortages.
Joining Gov. Snyder at today’s commencement ceremony were Talent Investment Agency Director Wanda M. Stokes; state Rep. Ben Frederick, R-Owosso, who also serves as chair of the Committee on Workforce and Talent Development; Sophie Stepke, chair of the MAT2 Strategic Steering Committee; Michael Nealon, vice president of academic affairs at Henry Ford College; James Sawyer, president of Macomb Community College; and Peter Provenzano, interim chancellor at Oakland Community College.
“I know from talking with MAT2 graduates that they are very appreciative of the investment their companies have made in them and for the wonderful opportunity for a great career,” Stokes said. “I want to thank the employers for making these opportunities available, and the colleges for working with the employers and these graduates to provide a world-class training program.”
This is the second graduating class for MAT2, which was envisioned by Gov. Snyder after a 2012 trade mission to Germany, where he toured a Professional Trades apprentice center. The inaugural class included 26 graduates. Today, Michigan has nearly 200 MAT2 students.
“The importance of MAT2 to Michigan as a state and to its citizens cannot be more apparent,” Rep. Frederick said. “A highly skilled workforce is vital to the well-being of our state, and I’m proud of the actions our legislature has taken to support skilled trades.”
Michigan employer demand is soaring for middle-skill workers – those with more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree, such as largely technical jobs in manufacturing and health care.
The need for advanced manufacturing employees is expected to remain strong as baby boomers retire, with more than 5,700 job openings anticipated in Michigan through 2024. Average wages for full-time jobs in this arena are $23.37 an hour. State estimates show that there is a need for 15,000 new Professional Trades workers annually through the next decade with average annual wages of $51,000, according to the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives.
The 46 graduates were students of MAT2’s Mechatronics, Technical Product Design and Information Technology programs at Henry Ford College, Macomb Community College and Oakland Community College. Friday’s recognition ceremony included representatives from the 22 companies that sponsored the students and from the three colleges.
One of TIA’s missions is to advance the efforts of the U.S. Department of Labor, which supports apprenticeship programs like MAT2. The 21 MAT2 employers’ commitment to training the students and paying for their associate college degrees represented an investment of more than $2.8 million.
Through MAT2, the participating students gained skills at an accelerated pace – just nine eight-week school periods – which required regular communication between the school and the companies about the concepts being taught. These connections lay the groundwork for future collaborations between industry and higher education, paving the way for an adept workforce capable of filling the future needs of Michigan manufacturers, suppliers and other skilled trades.
More information on the MAT2 program is available at mitalent.org/mat2.
Participating MAT2 employers: