Governor Rick Snyder tells a business conference on Mackinac Island that training and getting people interested in skilled trades is his top economic development priority.
Thousands of employers – including some of the state’s largest – attend the annual Detroit Regional Chamber event. The state’s new Talent Investment Agency says many of those employers complain Michigan has a “skills gap” in its workforce.
Governor Snyder says there are 8,300 of jobs as welders, electricians, computer drafters, and other skilled trades available right now, with thousands of new positions opening up each year.
“That is our great economic opportunity,” he says. “We can literally put to work tens of thousands hard-working people in well-paying jobs.”
“We’ve got a talent shortage in our state,” says Doug Rothwell of Business Leaders for Michigan. “But it’s a good news problem because of the comeback of the state.”
But Rothwell says the state falls into the bottom half of the country when it comes to getting post-high school jobs training.
Snyder says getting people into skilled trade positions could help close the income gap.
“When you hear people nationally talk about the issue of income inequality, that is a serious issue,” he says. “The best way to solve that problem is by developing talent, by building the skilled trades, by building STEM talent.”
Part of the challenge is convincing young people that skilled trades jobs aren’t vulnerable to the ups and downs of the economy. Snyder says many of the jobs will be well-paid, but also reliable because the state’s workforce is aging and retirements will make more positions available.