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As federal funds flow, Michigan aims to train 5,000 infrastructure workers

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer standing in a group of people holding paper
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, center, signed an executive directive Monday tasking the state labor department with training 5,000 new infrastructure workers by 2030. (Courtesy photo)
  • A new directive from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer aims to train 5,000 new infrastructure workers by 2030
  • Directive also tasks Michigan labor department with creating a plan to meet infrastructure workforce development goals by May 2025
  • Effort comes as Michigan begins to tap into more than $10 billion in federal infrastructure funding

LANSING — Michigan’s labor agency must develop plans to train 5,000 new infrastructure workers by 2030 under an executive directive Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Monday.

The directive, Whitmer’s first of 2024 and effective immediately, also requires the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) to establish a statewide strategy aimed at meeting infrastructure workforce development needs by May 1, 2025.


The job training push comes as Michigan begins to tap into the roughly $10.4 billion in federal infrastructure funding heading to the state in coming years.


“We must use this opportunity to build and strengthen our economic engine—the middle class,” Whitmer wrote within the directive. “To take full advantage, however, we must support, train, and grow a new workforce that has the skills necessary to succeed in the tens of thousands of jobs that will be created as a direct result of all these federal and state investments.”

The governor’s directive follows release of the new Statewide Workforce Plan, which lays out a formal vision to increase Michigan’s often-lackluster rankings against other states in job growth and wages

Unveiled in March, that plan — and Monday’s directive — aims to boost Michigan’s prosperity by aligning initiatives seeking out new and high-paying jobs, as well as better trained workers.

“This directive will prioritize barrier removal and ensure equal access to infrastructure career and education opportunities so Michigan can build the diverse, inclusive workforce of the future,” LEO Director Susan Corbin said in a statement.

Corbin’s department will work with other state agencies including the Department of Transportation, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, and the Michigan Infrastructure Office under the directive to train workers. 

As part of that effort, the labor department can use up to 5% of funding Michigan receives from federal infrastructure programs for workforce development. That could look like programming and incentives for hiring “workers needing extra support,” the directive notes, or “creating new workforce-development services or technical-assistance programs for skills-hiring entities.”

“Investing in workforce readiness isn’t just the key to building world-class infrastructure, it literally transforms lives,” said Chong-Anna Canfora, executive director of the Michigan Workforce Development Institute. 

She noted in a statement that the work “to provide free access to apprenticeship-readiness training and open up paths to the middle class via the skilled trades,” was especially impactful “for women and other underrepresented groups in the construction industry.”


The state labor department will need to “periodically evaluate” its goals to “ensure it is responsive to historica racial and gender inequities in access to infrastructure career and educational opportunities,” according to the directive.

It will also monitor metrics like on-time project delivery and increases in participation in the infrastructure development sector, among other things, to determine whether the effort is a success.

The aim is for each of the 5,000 workers trained under Monday’s directive to earn an industry-recognized certification, credential or receive on-the-job training.

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