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Labor and Economic Opportunity

Gov. Whitmer cabinet member visits career center to promote Professional Trades, educational attainment opportunities for students in Branch County

Visit with educators highlights high-demand, high-wage Professional Trades careers during tour of Branch Area Careers Center


Ted CONTACT: Beth McKenna989-225-0341
BACC CONTACT: Randy Sowles517-617-4526
KCC CONTACT: Eric Greene269-966-4088

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Branch Area Careers Center tour


COLDWATER, Mich.— Stephanie Beckhorn of Gov. Whitmer's cabinet paid a visit to Branch County on Tuesday to focus on encouraging students to pursue Professional Trades careers and further highlight educational training and attainment opportunities offered at Branch Area Careers Center.

The Branch Area Careers Center (BACC) has been serving the students of Branch County for 46 years. BACC partners with their local school districts to provide 14 career and technical education programs designed to prepare students for the state’s Hot 25 professional careers.

“Filling the state’s talent gap in Professional Trades and high-skill careers is among Michigan’s top priorities,” said Talent and Economic Development (Ted) Department of Michigan Acting Director Stephanie Beckhorn. “Career and technical education training is among the many opportunities to ensure students are college and career ready, helping us fill the estimated 811,000 jobs coming open through 2024, and reach educational attainment goals.”

Gov. Whitmer has called for increasing the number of Michiganders with postsecondary credentials to 60 percent by 2030 to help fill the state’s talent gap – and ultimately promote Michigan as a place with a highly skilled population, leading the state to a stronger economy, Beckhorn added.

The state promotes training and career exploration in high-demand, high-wage jobs through the Going PRO campaign to promote Michigan’s vast pipeline of opportunities. The campaign involves connecting employers with education leaders to align curriculum with employer needs, and match talent to available jobs.

One of the barriers the state seeks to remedy is the public’s misperception that apprenticeships and careers in Professional Trades are linked to “dirty jobs” and strenuous physical labor. These jobs require some form of credential, two or four-year degrees, and are available in variety of fields including information technology, computer science, healthcare and engineering.

“Staff work hard to encourage students to take career and technical education courses, and show them that Professional Trades careers align with their interests and professional goals,” Randy Sowles, BACC career and technical education director said. “Michigan employers are in need of young, eager-to-learn talent, BACC is making sure our students are equipped with the tools to be employable and ready for their educational pathway.”

BACC students also have the opportunity to obtain college credit through dual enrollment, early middle college and articulation agreements arranged through a strategic partnership with Kellogg Community College. All programs taught at the BACC offer nationally recognized certifications, and various opportunities to support career exploration.

The Governor’s budget proposal includes 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 college or university. 

“We have an incredible partnership with the ISD and the BACC,” said Shari Deevers, director of the Kellogg Community College Grahl Center. “We work well together to support and enhance the programs at the BACC, which include our Early College and Dual Enrollment options. The support for our students in Branch County is so encouraging, we have increased the number of students earning college credit in Branch County with the help of many community members and staff. We have amazing people who care and would like our students to succeed in life.”

In addition to the tour, BACC students from the Electrical and Automation Engineering Technologies, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and Health Academy programs were prepared to offer insight into their career aspirations.

“I feel like I thrive with hands-on experience and that’s what I get here,” said Molly Smith, a Coldwater High School senior enrolled in the Health Science Program at Branch Area Careers Center. “I’m able to go and experience what it’s like to be on the job and be a nurse. With all the experience and college credits I’ve earned, I’ll be a Registered Nurse at 20 years old because of this program.”

To learn more about the educational training offered at Branch Area Careers Center, visit their website at

Students, educators and parents are encouraged to check out the state’s most in-demand jobs on the Going PRO website.