Marquette–U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow today continued her week-long series of workforce discussions across Michigan at Northern Michigan University’s Jacobetti Complex in Marquette. The discussion focused on how to better fill the demand for skilled workers in Michigan and provide professional career and training opportunities for students who don’t choose a four-year college path after high school or workers who want to be retrained for new jobs. Stabenow met with local business and labor leaders, Northern Michigan University, educators, and parents.
Senator Stabenow frequently meets with business owners who express a critical need for more skilled workers, labor leaders who offer opportunities for training and apprenticeships for good paying jobs in the skilled trades, parents frustrated with the lack of opportunities for their children who are not college bound, and educators who are innovating to meet these needs. She is bringing these leaders together in communities across the state to discuss how we can partner to meet the needs of employers and provide job opportunities for all Michigan workers and students.
“I’ve visited over 110 small businesses in the past year and the number one issue I hear about is the need for more skilled workers,” said Senator Stabenow, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Senate Manufacturing Caucus. “Not every young person is interested in getting a four-year college degree. It’s important that they know there are great jobs in professional skilled trades and technical careers. To grow our economy for businesses and workers, we all need to work together to raise public awareness of these great job opportunities across Michigan.”
“Northern Michigan is excited to join with Senator Stabenow and community leaders to discuss skilled trades and other workforce development. As one of the few universities in the state that offers programs from the one- and two-year certificate/diploma level up to a doctorate, Northern is proud to be an educator of employees for all types of professions and to provide training at all levels as employees advance through their careers,” said NMU President Fritz Erickson. “We’re also extremely interested in hearing from business and industry leaders about the changing skill set demands for their employees, so our faculty can design the curricula to best fit the demands of their current and future jobs, including those in the skilled trades.”
“As an economic developer, we spend our days working with businesses across the region, and I can tell you that talent is the number one concern we hear,” said Amy J. Clickner, Executive Director of Lake Superior Community Partnership. “In order to assist businesses, we need to collaborate with all stakeholders to increase the awareness of the opportunities for family sustaining jobs in the professional skilled trades.”
“It is imperative we communicate more with students and parents about the skilled trades,” said Doug Leisenring, Superintendent of Delta-Schoolcraft ISD. “Many families are unaware of the tremendous career opportunities available to our high school graduates that do not require a four-year college degree.”
Senator Stabenow authored the New Skills for New Jobs Act of 2015 that builds on successful job training partnerships between our community colleges and local businesses to help close the skills gap and support businesses that are ready to hire. Stabenow plans to reintroduce this legislation in the fall following feedback from stakeholders during her workforce discussions.
According to a study conducted by National Association of Manufacturers and Deloitte, by 2025, over 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled. Yet due to the skills gap, 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled. The study also revealed that while Americans consider manufacturing among one of the most important domestic industries for maintaining a strong national economy, they rank it low as a career choice for themselves. Only 37 percent of respondents in the study indicated they would encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career.
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