Friday, November 17, 2017

Apprenticeships Today, Skilled Workers . . . Today?

By: Rebekah McCarter

Apprenticeship is the new buzzword in today’s skills gap conversation as manufacturers face a growing shortage of qualified workers. Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national non-profit, recently hosted an event in Washington, D.C. as a kick-off to National Apprenticeship Week (November 13-17), and announced the launch of a new Center for Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning, supported in part by a $3 million grant from Walmart.

Companies who visit the website can view a variety of resources filtered by industry, program structure, program elements, population and demographics and a variety of other filters. The resources themselves consist of case studies, reports, other websites and organizations, toolkits and blogs.

Michigan has been active in creating programs and opportunities to introduce young people and unemployed individuals to the vast and evolving opportunities in manufacturing. One such program, the Michigan Advanced Technician Training Program (MAT2), is a partnership between educators and technology leaders that seeks to train workers in the manufacturing and technology industries. Students are taught to combine theory, practice and work to gain a more comprehensive approach to their jobs. It functions like an apprenticeship program as students alternate between classroom instruction and on-the-job training. MAT2 is a three-year program and features training in 3-D modeling, computer simulation and software development. Students receive a wage from participating employers while in the program, then commit to staying on the job for at least two years after program completion.

Applications are currently open for the 2018 fall program. Kalamazoo Valley Community College will offer CNC technician training, while Baker College-Cadillac, Henry Ford College and Oakland Community College will offer both Mechatronics and CNC technician training.

For more information on Pure Michigan Talent Connect, job offerings, skilled trades, apprenticeship and other on-the-job training opportunities, click here.

To put these apprenticeship programs into perspective, here are some relevant statistics from the Department of Labor:

  • There are more than 545,000 apprentices nationwide in more than 1,000 occupations, with more than 14,000 active apprentices in Michigan.
  • Nearly 9 out of 10 apprentices are employed after completing their apprenticeship, with an average starting salary of $60,000 annually.
  • Workers who complete apprenticeship programs earn $300,000 more over a career than their peers who don’t.
  • For every dollar spent on apprenticeship, employers get an estimated $1.50 return on investment (ROI).

The importance and impact of apprenticeship programs is clear as they seek to address the increasing skills gap that has emerged in the manufacturing industry. As more attention is given to this problem, and more programs are established such as the ones highlighted during National Apprenticeship Week, this skills gap might soon be filled with educated and trained young workers to take the manufacturing industry into the future.

Rebekah McCarter
Market Research Associate

Rebekah has worked with The Center for over 19 years as head cheerleader and advocate on behalf of Michigan’s manufacturing community. As a Market Research Associate, she prepares custom market research reports, detailing trends by target industries. Those trends include market leaders, market size, geographic analysis and any regulatory issues that might impact a company seeking to enter the market. She also has an interest in the future of manufacturing, as she enjoys researching current and upcoming trends, events and challenges facing the industry.

Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

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