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Labor and Economic Opportunity

Gov. Rick Snyder: Skilled trades provide job skills for the future

Skilled trades road show

Grand Rapids visit kicks off road show promoting skilled trades opportunities in Michigan

Monday, Nov. 9, 2015

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – To showcase the opportunities for skilled trades careers in Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder today kicked off a road show at the Kent Career Tech Center in Grand Rapids.

Snyder toured the tech center’s campus and lab facilities to see the innovative projects being worked on by students and instructors. Following the tour, he joined Stephanie Comai, director of the Michigan Talent Investment Agency, Jay Dunwell, president of Wolverine Coil Spring in Grand Rapids, to talk with students about in-demand skills that can lead to successful, well-paying careers.

“The availability of a skilled workforce is one of the factors businesses use when determining locating or growing their business,” Snyder said. That’s why we are working to make Michigan the national leader in talent development.  We need to make sure that students know what opportunities are out there for these respected, high-paying careers in growing and innovative industries.”

Grand Rapids was the first stop on what will be a statewide road show to connect with students, parents and educators to address perceptions and create more awareness on skilled trade careers.

Skilled trade jobs typically require education beyond high school, along with on-the-job training, but not a four-year degree. This includes jobs in health care (lab technicians, dental hygienists), maintenance and repair, public safety, manufacturing (machine operators, welders), construction, carpentry, plumbing and electrical work.  

Attracting future talent and addressing perceptions is crucial as employers will continue to actively seek skilled talent to fill the projected 6,700 skilled trade job openings each year through 2022. 

 “There is a high demand for people with technical skills, which means tremendous opportunities for young talent,” said TIA Director Stephanie Comai. “The industry faces misperceptions and we need to continue to talk about these career options in Michigan. Opportunities to visit with students like we did today are very important.”

Over the past year, Snyder has continued to make strides in investing and raising awareness for skilled trades. In May, he announced a partnership between the Michigan Economic Development CorporationMichigan’s Talent Investment AgencyMike Rowe, TV host and founder of mikeroweWORKS, and Tom Daldin, host of Under the Radar Michigan to create videos that address common misconceptions and perceptions about skilled trades.  

In October 2014, Snyder announced a $50 million grant program to provide funding that enables Michigan community colleges to purchase equipment required for educational programs in high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand occupations; the largest investment of its kind in the country.

Skilled trade jobs represent about one-third of Michigan’s employment base, with more than 8,300 jobs currently available. 

“We hope to excite and connect emerging and transitional talent with training programs and employers eager to build, not just good jobs, but careers in manufacturing,” said Jay Dunwell, president of Wolverine Coil Spring Co. in Grand Rapids. “Skilled trades programs are an integral part of preparing students for skilled trade careers, especially when you consider employer involvement to improve curriculum and to provide job shadows, plant tours, and hands-on work experiences.”

For more information about skilled trades in Michigan, visit