www.mybaycity.com July 9, 2016
Schools Article 10496

Students at Mid-Michigan Community College earn technical degrees in one to two years.

TRADE SCHOOLS: Aim to Ease 15% Unemployment Rate for 17-25 Year-Olds

July 9, 2016
By: Dave Rogers

The demise of high school shops and other vocational training over the past 40 years has resulted in many young people without the skills to succeed.

Educational researchers at Michigan State University and other institutions of higher education have found this trend leads to more unemployment, crime and increased costs of correction.

But there is another important reason to support trade and vocational education: not enough job-ready workers are available for positions open in industry.

"American manufacturing is currently experiencing a growing skills gap -- an inability to fill positions with technologically experienced and qualified workers," says Dr. Wanda Cook Robinson, superintendent, Oakland Schools.

Now, recognizing the causes of this problem, trade or vocational schools at both the secondary school and community college levels are being supported and promoted by the state government and charitable organizations.

More students are falling through the cracks of the educational system and some researchers think the trend could worsen if new programs are not developed.

In Michigan, students used to be able to "drop out" of school when they turned 16. Now the laws have been modified to change the requirement for students to stay in school until they are 18. The 2016 class will be the first required to stay until age 18.

The Garden Party Foundation of Michigan, of Highland Park, one charitable organization, has issued the following statement in connection with fundraising for trade programs:

"We believe trade schools are an overlooked yet an outstanding opportunity for young adults.

"The unemployment rate for 17-25 year-olds hovers around 15%.

"Meanwhile, there are at least 70,000 unfilled jobs in Michigan, most of which are for skilled trades.

"Trade schools can fill the gap, teaching students the knowledge and skills to be career-ready as well as help them build self-sustainable lives.

"The support and career exposure students receive in trade schools can help ensure long-term success. Trade schools also connect students to in-demand jobs and businesses to a pool of career-ready talent.

"We have a chance to help underprivileged young adults take advantage of these opportunities and it is our mission to do so."

A trained workforce is considered essential for manufacturing growth in Northern Michigan. Employers regionally and nationally have specifically identified the need for Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine tool operators and programs.

North Central Michigan College has developed credit and workforce training programs that are being delivered in a self-contained mobile manufacturing training lab, the "Fab Lab." This 41-foot trailer contains 12 state-of-the-art computers and design programs, a lathe and turning station by Haas, Surf Cam and Solid Works software and a 3D printer. The mobile unit is deployed to area high schools to offer credit-based courses and to manufacturing sites to offer convenient training to area employers.

The success of the program led to another area partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians to build a stationary CNC lab on the Petoskey campus.


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