Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan
Careers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) are high paying and in-demand.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that at least 8,654,000 U.S. STEM jobs will exist in 2018, with professions including manufacturing, computing, accounting, auditing, mechanical engineering and biology, among others. A report by StemConnector.org estimates 274,000 STEM jobs in Michigan by 2018.
However, as the economy grows, there is a gap between STEM job openings and employees with the knowledge and skills necessary to fill them, specifically in the manufacturing sector. StemConnector.org notes that 600,000 manufacturing jobs are going unfilled because of the skills gap caused in part to lagging interest in pursuing a career in manufacturing
The new Michigan Advanced Technician Training program (MAT2) program is an educational model developed in conjunction with global technology and education leaders. It is targeted to graduating high school students, students currently enrolled in a Community College or 4-Year University to gain practical work experience while they go to school.
Through the three year-program, community colleges and businesses partner to train students in mechatronics – a combination of electrical, mechanical and electronic competencies, to identify, analyze and solve systems-based problems. In turn, students receive:
Kelsey Erne is one of the students currently participating in the program, attending Oakland Community College and working with Brose.
“It’s a very intense program, but I’m really excited about it because it’s all completely new material and I’m learning a lot,” said Erne. “I was never given the opportunity to take technology classes in high school. It’s important to look at all of your options because programs like these give really great hands on experience.”
There are currently 11 companies participating, with hopes to expand to 90 students next year. The 11 companies include:
• Brose North America Inc.
• Cadillac Products Automotive Co.
• Detroit Diesel Corp.
• EMAG LLC
• FTE Automotive USA Inc.
• Heller Machine Tools LP
• Inergy Automotive Systems LLC
• Kostal North America Inc.
• New Center Stamping Inc.
• Proper Group International
• ZF North America Inc.
The students go through the program together as a cohort and after the three years, students receive their advanced associate’s degree and a full-time Mechatronics Technician job at one of the 11 companies.
“We are all going through this program together, so we are sort of like a family,” Erne said. Through our teamwork, we get through all of our classes—I help people who struggle with certain classes and vice versa. We’re also building great networking skills that we will take with us throughout our career.”
In the future, the program is looking into expand into other industries, including computer numerical control operation, software programming and industrial design.
“I really love working with people and I want to build from the bottom up and eventually take all of the hands on experience I have gained from this program and move up to management.”