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Issue 1561 November 25, 2012
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APPRENTICESHIPS KEY: State, Industry Leaders Agree on Need

Local Effort Designated "Pre-Apprenticeship" Program Recommended by State

September 4, 2018       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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The developing School-to-Work Pathways project in Bay County has been designated as a "Pre-Apprenticeship" school by the Michigan Workforce Development Agency.

After a meeting with Ed Koledo, deputy director of Workforce Development, board trustee Dee Dee Wacksman and consultant Dave Rogers received the recommendation to add "Pre-Apprenticeship" to the program STEM Pre-Apprenticeships Training Center.

The local center is projected to open in fall 2019 with up to 100 students who will choose career paths from Information Technology, Construction, Manufacturing, Healthcare and associated fields related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

"This program will fulfill the employment needs and desires of non-graduates of high school mainly in the 18-22 age group," said Ms. Wacksman, adding: "This is only a small number of the thousands of at-risk students in this area but we hope to refine and expand the program both here and in neighboring communities as it grows. Hopefully, other education groups in the community will join us in the effort to reform training programs to meet this crisis."

Following is information from the Michigan Apprenticeship agency about both the needs of employers and career-minded employees:

Michigan is at a talent pipeline crossroads. Employers can't fill jobs because of the lack of a sufficiently skilled workforce.

While CNBC recently declared Michigan a Top 10 State for Winning the War on Talent in its America's Top States for Business study, leaders in business, education, and government agree much more work remains to satisfy Michigan employers' hiring needs and keep local economies moving forward.

Projections by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget's Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives show that Michigan will experience a Professional Trades workforce gap of more than 811,000 openings through 2024 in several high-demand, high-wage careers in information technology and computer science, healthcare, manufacturing and other industries.

At the same time, appreciation of the rewards that can come from apprenticeships and Professional Trades is lagging in Michigan. At least half of Michigan's high school students, young adults and parents lack knowledge about the value and benefits apprenticeships offer, with only 13% of high school students considering apprenticeships a good career path option, according to a new statewide survey commissioned by the Michigan Talent Investment Agency (TIA).

Key findings from TIA's research show:

*At least 55% of parents say they are not knowledgeable about apprenticeship benefits.

*Only 21% of parents view an apprenticeship as a good option after high school for their child or children.

*Students ages 14-30 are significantly more knowledgeable about the options of community colleges and four-year universities than apprenticeships.

*Students in West Michigan and Southeast Michigan are similar in their knowledge of the potential benefits of apprenticeships at 44%, while other regions of the state are highly variable, ranging from 56% in Greater Lansing/Jackson to only 35% in the Great Lakes Bay Region that includes Genesee, Bay, Saginaw and Midland counties as well as the Thumb Region covering Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola counties.

In response, state leaders have kicked off Michigan Apprenticeships Experience Sooner, a public education effort launched by the Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan (Ted) to build awareness and knowledge of apprenticeship opportunities.

According to the State of Michigan's labor market projections -- it is expected that 811,055 job postings will remain unfilled through 2024, which translates to over $49 billion in lost wages annually for Michigan's economy. According to the State of Michigan's labor market projections -- a project WIN assisted with -- it is expected that 811,055 job postings will remain unfilled through 2024, which translates to over $49 billion in lost wages annually for Michigan's economy.

The southeast Michigan WIN board unanimously provided support to move forward with strategic planning to sharpen the focus of workforce initiatives that will most greatly benefit southeast Michigan.

Changing the public's mindset is critical to Michigan's future success, business and government leaders agree.

"Some areas of Michigan have done a better job than others about getting the word out that there are options available beyond pursuing a four-year college degree," said Capital Area Michigan Works! (CAMW) CEO Edythe Hatter-Williams, who worked for 13 years in vocational-education training with the Flint City School District before serving the past 21 years at CAMW.

"I'm a product of vocational education training, and back then vocational education had a negative connotation that we were the "slow" kids. Many parents today still have that perception," Hatter-Williams said.

"We have a lot of work to do to change that mindset, and it's not going to happen overnight," she added.

"You say apprenticeships to most people, and they think manufacturing," Hatter-Williams said. "But apprenticeships now encompass so much more, such as information technology, healthcare, insurance and finance and Professional Trades including electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and steelworkers."

"Lofty goal"

The goal of Experience Sooner is to expand Michigan apprenticeships by 15% annually through a multifaceted awareness campaign.

"It's a lofty goal that we're calling the moonshot mandate," said Janene Erne, Advance Michigan Center for Apprenticeship Innovation apprenticeship administrator. "The rate at which workers are graduating from Michigan's vocational educational programs simply cannot meet the ever-growing need of employers. We have to do a better job of communicating about apprenticeships and Professional Trades to students, parents, and grandparents."

The Advance Michigan Center for Apprenticeship Innovation (AMCAI) is a $4 million American Apprenticeship Initiative grant recipient tasked with expanding regional apprenticeship through statewide innovation. AMCAI covers 13 counties in Southeast Michigan and promotes the overall goal of expanding and enhancing Department of Labor (DOL) Registered Apprenticeships.

One of the biggest barriers in terms of filling Michigan's talent pipeline is the disconnects that exist between local K-12 school systems, postsecondary institutions and employers in terms of the skills students learn in school not matching up with the knowledge employers want in new hires, she noted.

"New partnerships that break down silos and build stronger connections developed through Experience Sooner will be more important than ever in hitting the mark of creating new apprenticeships," Erne said.

Experience Sooner is aligned with Michigan's Marshall Plan for Talent, a $100 million investment to help educators, employers and other stakeholders transform the state's talent pipeline and strategically redesign the ways to invest, develop and attract talent.

In addition, Experience Sooner will help promote the Going PRO Apprenticeship Readiness Initiative, a new grant program that has already awarded over $1.8 million to 11 organizations -- including Michigan Works!, community colleges, industry associations and nonprofits -- to provide pre-apprenticeship training to nearly 400 job seekers.

Moving forward

Ted Director Roger Curtis recently announced the state's creation of a new Talent Development Liaison Team that will focus on engaging with employers and educators and encouraging partnerships to address talent needs and identifying mid- and long-term strategies to address the skill gaps in key Michigan industries.

"Business and education partnerships are key components in connecting the dots between business needs and how we can best address the gap in the state's talent pipeline," Curtis said.

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at carraroe@aol.com)

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