West Michigan Works! is a workforce development agency that works to "create a pool of qualified talent" for the region's employers. Photo via fb.com
A new federal grant will allow Michigan to expand skilled-trade apprenticeship opportunities for underserved groups.
The $2.5-million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to the Michigan Workforce Development Agency will support the expansion of apprenticeship programs geared toward women, veterans, people of color, youths and people with low incomes.
The funds will be aimed at growing education and apprenticeship programs in agriculture, construction, energy, health care, information technology and manufacturing, to name a few.
Dave Murray, communications director for the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development, said employers need to be taught how to train apprentices to get the programs off the ground.
“A big part of the plan is showing businesses how they can create apprenticeships, so they see the value — especially in types of work that might not traditionally lend itself to an apprentice approach,” he said.
Murray said the grant will be used for employer incentives, establishing an apprenticeship learning network for employers and sponsors, establishing local apprenticeship coordinators at 16 Michigan Works! locations and offsetting the cost of training, primarily for community colleges.
Wanda Stokes, director at the Michigan Talent Investment Agency, which will oversee how the grant is spent, said the state is looking for areas where it can do more.
“This grant is affirmation of the effort we have made here in Michigan to strengthen our families and our economy,” Stokes said. “We’re proud of the efforts we’ve made, but we are focused on doing even more.”
The grant, part of the national ApprenticeshipUSA program awarding $50.5 million to 36 states and one territory, is the second-largest such award in the nation.
The Michigan Talent Investment Agency said its goal is to add 1,004 registered apprenticeships in Michigan by May 2018, a 5-percent increase from current numbers. Murray said the state expects to begin launching new apprenticeships as soon as the first quarter of 2017.
Governor Rick Snyder said the grant will help Michiganders gain in-demand jobs in the area of skilled trades.
“We’ve made great progress in Michigan, but we know there is more to do to close the skills gap and develop talent in our state," he said. "Our goal is to lead the nation in growing talent, helping our residents now and long into the future.”