Michigan awards $50M for skilled trades training

Lauren Abdel-Razzaq
The Detroit News

Eighteen community colleges will receive $50 million in grants toward state-of-the art equipment and training in the technical trades under a new program.

The Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program is an effort to help close the talent gap and meet demand for good-paying jobs, Gov. Rick Snyder said during a press call.

“We’ve got a lot of people already in these fields,” he said. “These programs can be equally honorable (to a four-year degree) and in many cases can lead to just as good of pay.”

Beyond skilled manufacturing, the grants will also cover equipment for programs in the health care, aerospace, law enforcement and defense fields, he said. Success will be measured by how many graduates come through the programs in the next few years. Snyder estimates there will be 34,000 graduates benefiting from the money.

Michael Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association, said filling the “skills gap in today’s economy is right in the sweet spot of the training activity of many community colleges.”

The program is part of Snyder’s plan to emphasize technical and skilled trades. Earlier this month, in his 2016 budget proposal, he announced a 75 percent boost in money for skilled trades training and career technical education. That includes programs for students in high school and earlier, post-high school education and those in the workforce.

The equipment program, which Snyder announced in October, offers community colleges up to $4.8 million and requires them to provide a 25 percent match for all equipment costs, including installation, renovation and instructor training.

Schools chosen for the program will provide more than $21.5 million in matching funds.

Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn will receive more than $4.5 million and provide more than $2.1 million in matching funds. Its program will focus on machine tool technology, electrical technology, welding, manufacturing, automotive and heating/ventilation/air conditioning.

Oakland Community College in Royal Oak will receive more than $4.5 million and provide more than $1.5 million in matching funds. Its program will focus on auto servicing, collision repair, medium/heavy truck and equipment, and commercial driving.

“Oakland Community College will use these funds to provide advanced automotive, transportation and mechatronics training on cutting-edge equipment,” Chancellor Timothy Meyer said. “Gov. Snyder and the Michigan Strategic Fund are promoting high-demand skilled trades and putting the resources in place to make it happen.”

Macomb Community College in Warren will receive more than $2.8 million and provide $987,798 in matching funds. Its program will focus on welding fabrication, computer numerical control machining, mechatronics, production operators and automotive manufacturing.

As Michigan’s skilled trade workers get older, the state is putting a renewed emphasis on training welders, machinists, electricians and other blue-collar workers.

“Manufacturing has created more than 114,500 jobs since 2009 and employers are still searching to fill thousands of available positions,” said Chuck Hadden, president and chief executive of the Michigan Manufacturers Association. “The Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program provides Michigan’s next generation the equipment necessary to learn the skills manufacturers need.”

An estimated 450,000 students attend the state’s 28 community colleges. All but one applied for the grants.

The state’s unemployment rate in December was 6.3 percent — well above the national rate of 5.6 percent — according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Skilled trade jobs represent about one-third of the state's employment.


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The Associated Press contributed.