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Labor and Economic Opportunity

State promotes careers, apprenticeships and closing state's talent gap during "Home for Opportunity Tour" event at Delta College

Message to Great Lakes Bay region students, educators and business leaders: We need more workers to pursue 811,000 high-paying, in-demand job openings in science, technology, engineering, math and Professional Trades

CONTACT: Erica Quealy, 517-582-2961
February 26, 2019


BAY CITY, Mich. – Gov. Whitmer's cabinet member, Stephanie Beckhorn, today said filling the state’s talent gap in advanced manufacturing, Professional Trades and high-tech careers is among Michigan’s most important priorities while bringing her administration’s “Home for Opportunity Tour” to Bay City.

The tour, comprising 50 events across Michigan, is designed to maximize outreach and engagement by reaching every corner of Michigan, from Marquette to Detroit to the Tri-Cities. At Delta College, they met with more than 20 employers, educators and economic development specialists for an executive roundtable that focused on helping employers in the Great Lakes Bay region fill their talent pipeline with qualified workers, followed by a tour of Delta’s nationally acclaimed Technical Trades and Manufacturing Center.

“One of the top priorities facing Michigan employers is their need for more high-skilled workers,” said Talent and Economic Development (Ted) Department of Michigan Acting Director Stephanie Beckhorn.

"Preparing our students today for the careers of tomorrow will help Michigan fill an estimated 811,000 jobs coming open through 2024, mostly in the fields of information technology, computer science, manufacturing, healthcare and professional skilled trades," she said. "We’re gathering valuable feedback from local business and education leaders about the vast opportunities ahead to address the state’s talent gap and reach educational attainment goals – and ultimately lead Michigan to a healthier, stronger economy.”

Michigan’s working-age population is projected to decline by 7 percent between 2020 and 2030 – the steepest drop of any state in the nation and the single greatest threat to Michigan’s economy, Beckhorn said.

“We encourage businesses across the Great Lakes Bay region like those gathered here today to open their doors to teachers and counselors, to have job fairs and to invite the community in to help find solutions. By building and reinforcing partnerships such as the successful model that Dow, Delta College, and Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! have developed to recruit chemical process operators and skilled trade apprentices, we can position our state as a leader in talent development and business growth.”

Michigan’s career development programs support training in occupations traditionally considered “skilled trades.” The state promotes training and exploration in a wide range of occupations in emerging high-demand, high-tech industries, spurring Michigan’s creation of the all-encompassing term “Professional Trades.

To address the state’s talent gap challenge, Michigan has launched Going PRO, a statewide campaign to attract students to Professional Trades careers, including filling 6,200 jobs this year. The campaign involves connecting employers with education leaders to align curriculum with employers’ needs, grassroots events such as public forums with students and parents to inform them about Professional Trades career opportunities, and paid advertising.

“You’re a good fit for Professional Trades if you can pay attention to details, if you like working with your hands, if your hands work well with your head and if you like solving puzzles,” Delta College Business and Technology Division Skilled Trades Manager Harvey Schneider said.

“Going PRO can help change the attitude about Professional Trades. We’re already seeing more students and especially parents saying they are interested in what the opportunities are (in Professional Trades) for their son or daughter.”

The Going PRO Talent Fund provides competitive awards to assist in up-skilling, developing or retaining current and new employees through public-private partnerships. In 2018, the Going PRO Talent Fund awarded $29 million in grants to 780 employers across the state including several Great Lakes Bay region recipients.

Going PRO messaging also encourages women to consider careers in Professional Trades. In the science, technology, engineering, arts and math fields – collectively known as STEAM – under one-third of the science and engineering workforce in the United States is women, and only 25 percent of females work in computer and mathematical sciences, according to a recent survey from the National Girls Collaborative project.

“To get, and keep, more women in STEAM and Professional Trades, we need to show girls these careers align with their interests, values and desire to make an impact that helps change the world,” said Delta College Dean of Teaching and Learning, Academic Services Martha Crawmer.

Gov. Whitmer has proposed increasing the number of Michiganders with postsecondary credentials to 60 percent by 2030. Her plan calls for introducing MI Opportunity Scholarships that offer qualified high school graduates a debt-free path to community college or two years of tuition assistance at a four-year public or private not-for-profit college/university. 

Whitmer also plans to create the Michigan Reconnect initiative to ensure adults working in in-demand industries have a tuition-free pathway to a certificate or associate degree. The aim is to up-skill workers age 25-plus looking to take the next step in their careersassist employers seeking a source of qualified talentcreate an avenue for displaced workers to re-enter the workforce, and promote Michigan as a place with a highly skilled population.

The group in attendance at today’s “Home for Opportunity” event included They toured Delta College’s nationally acclaimed Computer Numeric Control (CNC) and Chemical Processing laboratories. Delta has spent over $1.8 million to upgrade its equipment into state-of-the-art laboratories under a Michigan grant-funding program aimed at training students for in-demand skilled trade positions.

About 300 Delta students are currently enrolled in Professional Trades apprenticeships offered in conjunction with area employers in such career tracks as industrial electrician, mechatronics, millwright, pattern maker, industrial maintenance pipefitter, plumber-pipefitter and tool-die maker.