Now that Governor Rick Snyder has secured the governorship for another term, expect to see a strong focus on vocational education training during the next four years.
It’s part of what Gov. Snyder calls one of the state’s most pressing needs – fixing the state’s skills gap, in which 75,000 skilled jobs remain vacant because of a lack of qualified applicants. Watch Snyder explain how the state “got into this mess.”
Many of the vacant jobs lie in the skilled trades industries – careers that typically require some training beyond high school but not usually a four-year degree. The opportunities in the skilled trades are vast and go beyond the careers that may typically come to mind.
If you’ve ever needed physical therapy, you might have worked with a physical therapy assistant who provided massages, hot and cold compresses and/or monitored your exercise routine. Physical therapy assistants can bring home as much as $76,000 annually. An associate degree is the highest level of training required, and job growth is forecasted at 29 percent through 2020 in Michigan.
You’ve probably encountered a computer user support specialist if you’ve ever called for help with technical support on a malfunctioning computer. Help desk technicians, as they are called, work to resolve computer problems electronically or on the telephone. The people on the other end of the line can earn as much as $73,000 annually. Some college is needed, but no degree is required. Michigan forecasted job growth is expected to grow 15 percent through 2020.
If you’ve ever lost power to your home, (and during a winter in Michigan, who hasn’t?) you’ve probably seen an electrical power line repair person working to turn your electricity back on. Electrical power-line installers and repairers can make as much as $80,000 annually. A high school diploma and long-term, on-the-job apprenticeships are required and job growth is forecasted at 5 percent through 2020.
All of these jobs lie in the skilled trades industries and are highlighted in the Career and Technical Training Guide for Skilled Trade Occupations in Michigan, a report created by the Michigan Credit Union League, the trade association representing Michigan credit unions.
Credit unions are committed to helping their members make sound financial decisions and improve their financial lives, and job choices are key to achieving financial stability. Our research shows demand for the skilled trades will only increase. In Michigan, the skilled trades as a whole are expected to grow by 7.4 percent by 2020, and many industries are expected to grow much more substantially – in some cases, 30 to 50 percent.
MCUL collaborated with Congressman Dan Benishek, Michigan’s Workforce Development Agency and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to research the state’s employment needs and investigate how we could help equip our workforce.
Listen to what prompted Rep. Benishek to make skilled trades education a key priority in his northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula district.
The collaboration resulted in development of free resources for teens and young adults to evaluate skilled trade occupations. The resources include the comprehensive guide, which features 24 in-demand skilled trade careers grouped into five clusters as designated by the Workforce Development Agency: manufacturing, health care, agriculture, energy and information technology.
The guide is a career roadmap of sorts, designed for young people and those looking to redefine their careers. It includes salary information, training needed and forecasted job growth. The three examples at the beginning of the article are all listed in the guide.
We also want to make it easy for teachers to incorporate skilled trades education into high school classrooms. So MCUL partnered with a Michigan teacher to create lesson plans to explore the skilled trades. The plans help students learn about skilled trades industries as a whole, then identify their skill sets and which skilled trades positions might interest them. All of these materials are available for free on our website.
Choosing a career is a monumental decision. MCUL wants to ensure that young people have the right tools at their disposal to make a decision that’s most right for them – whether it’s pursuing a four-year degree or looking for work in the skilled trades. Either way, if young people discover they can make a significant contribution and a good living by staying in Michigan, we all win.
Dave Adams is the CEO of the Lansing-based Michigan Credit Union League and CU Solutions Group.