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Labor and Economic Opportunity

Talent Investment Agency congratulates third class of graduates on completing Michigan's MAT2 apprenticeship program

Program addresses critical talent shortages outlined by Marshall Plan for Talent

Contact: Stepheni Schlinker

LANSING, July 13, 2018 – Today the Talent Investment Agency congratulated the 38 graduates who comprise the third class of the Michigan Advanced Technician Training (MAT2) program at a ceremony held at the Michigan Library and Historical Center in Lansing.

Initiated by Gov. Snyder to train skilled workers for mechatronics, MAT2 employers provide full tuition for students, as well as a school stipend. It is an apprenticeship program where students alternate between classroom instruction and paid on-the-job training, gaining the necessary hands-on skills and real-world experiences needed to become a successful and productive member of the skilled workforce. Students who receive their degree and complete the three-year program successfully have a job upon graduation in an in-demand field.

Employers absorb the cost of this hybrid education, but the State of Michigan has provided an employer training grant for MAT2 employers that offer United States Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeships in order to offset the employer’s cost of paying for schooling, employment wages, and additional living stipends while participants are in school. Part of the benefit for employers, in addition to having direct involvement in curriculum development in order to ensure that any and all of their talent and skills needs are being met, is that this kind of program ultimately reduces the employers’ recruitment, retention, and training costs when hiring people who are potentially unskilled, in need of significant training, or otherwise not a good fit.

“The MAT2 program is a perfect example of what the Marshall Plan for Talent is all about – education and business communities working together toward one goal,” Gov. Snyder said. “We need more employers in Michigan to offer apprenticeships that allow students to develop their talent while providing a great start to their careers. I applaud today’s graduates for their success and I thank the employers for participating in this innovative program.”

Speaking at today’s commencement ceremony were Stephanie Beckhorn, Director of TIA’s Workforce Development Agency; Rep. Ben Frederick (R-Owosso), who also serves as the chair of the Committee on Workforce and Talent Development; Sophie Stepke, chair of the MAT2 Strategic Steering Committee and Training Manager at ZF North America; Jeremy Hendges, Chief Deputy, Talent and Economic Department of Michigan; and representatives from Baker College of Cadillac, Henry Ford College, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Lansing Community College and Oakland Community College.

“This program is consistent with Gov. Snyder’s vision to promote high-paying, high-demand, careers available in the professional trades,” Stephanie Beckhorn, Director of TIA’s Workforce Development Agency, said. “By providing both classroom instruction and on-the-job training, apprenticeship programs serve a vital role by preparing workers for critical occupations in Michigan’s labor market. Congratulations to today’s graduates on a job well done!”

A significant professional trades shortage exists in Michigan and is expected to continue through 2024. Michigan will have nearly 811,000 career openings to fill over the next six years in fields that are facing talent shortages, with an average salary of over $51,000 per year. Data indicates current and future shortages exist in information technology and computer science, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and other professional trades and business careers.

This program not only trains skilled workers for the Michigan labor market, but they also offer Michigan workers high-wage, high-demand job opportunities that do not require a bachelor’s degree. Between fiscal year 2008 and 2017, the number of active registered apprentices in Michigan grew from 3,132 to 15,304, demonstrating a growth rate of almost 500 percent in this supply of skilled workers over nearly a decade.

“ZF North America has been a MAT2 employer since the beginning of the program,” Sophie Stepke, ZF North America Training Manager, said. “Michigan industry leaders worked closely with the colleges to develop quality training programs that meet employers’ needs for advanced, highly-skilled, technicians. We are able to train our students while they are attending college, so they have the skills to meet our company’s needs. By paying for their education and building a relationship during the three years, we are also developing long-term loyalty. We are investing in our company’s future.”

The 38 graduates were students of the MAT2 Mechatronics, Computer Numerical Control (CNC), and Information Technology programs at Baker College of Cadillac, Henry Ford College, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Lansing Community College and Oakland Community College. Friday’s celebration included representatives from the 20 companies that sponsored the students and from the five colleges.

Through MAT2, the participating students gained skills at an accelerated pace – just nine 8-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.

The MAT2 program is administered by the Talent Investment Agency, which is part of the Department of Talent and Economic Development. Visit for more information on MAT2 or the Talent Investment Agency. Participating MAT2 employers include:

  • Akwel Automotive -- Cadillac, MI
  •  Avon Protection Systems, Inc. -- Cadillac, MI
  •  Benteler Automotive -- Grand Rapids, MI
  •  Borg Warner -- Cadillac, MI
  •  Brose North America, Inc. -- Auburn Hills, MI
  •  Cadillac Casting, Inc. -- Cadillac, MI
  •  Central Process Engineering -- Wixom, MI
  •  DTMB -- State of Michigan -- Lansing, MI
  •  EMAG,LLC -- Farmington Hills, MI
  •  FIAMM Technologies, Inc. -- Cadillac, MI
  •  Flowserve Corporation -- Kalamazoo, MI
  •  Group Beneteau -- Cadillac, MI
  •  Hutchinson Antivibration Systems, Inc. -- Grand Rapids and Cadillac, MI
  •  K + S Services -- Southgate, MI
  •  Kalkaska Screw Products, Inc. -- Traverse City, MI
  •  Pontiac Coil -- Clarkston, MI
  •  Skilled Manufacturing, Inc. -- Traverse City, MI
  •  Weil Engineering North America -- Novi, MI
  •  Williams International -- Commerce Township, MI
  •  ZF North America -- Northville, MI