Working to Close the Skilled Trades Gaps Through Apprenticeships

Skilled trades jobs account for nearly 5 percent of employment in the state of Michigan. In a 2015 report by the state of Michigan, they estimate that by 2022, skilled trades jobs will grow by almost 14 percent. While this is great news, the report also points out the gap in the number of skilled trades workers to fill these future job openings. A majority of the current skilled trades workers today are baby boomers, who are on the cusp of retiring. The graduation rate of workers from vocational education programs is not enough to support the growing need.

Pre-Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship Programs

There are several programs that are trying to interest more people in a skilled trades career. One of the biggest draws for apprenticeships is the fact that students can “learn and earn”. This type of training allows for students to come out of these programs debt-free. Below are some programs that are helping close the skilled trades gap.

  • Michigan State University offers a 4-year apprentice program. This online program allows students to study on the road while working under a foreman and gain field training and knowledge. At the end of 4 years, the apprentice will be ready to take the electrical journeyman exam. All of Lee Contracting’s electrical apprentices are enrolled in this program.
  • Focus:HOPE offers an advanced manufacturing training program. In this 20-week program, students will learn how to operate manual lathes and mills, learn shop math and blueprint reading. Upon graduation from this program, the graduates will have technical training and be OSHA safety certified. The skills learned in this program lead to careers as a machine operator, CNC machinist or a production worker.
  • The Workforce of the Future & Career Readiness Coalition was started by Operating Engineers 324 and several other local organizations. It is a 16-week program for Detroit public school high school juniors and seniors. The program teaches skills and tools they can use in a skilled trades career. They graduated their first class in August 2017.
  • The Detroit Job Alliance started a program called Access for All. It is a public-private community-union-management collaborative partnership that has been created to address the increased need for skilled journeypersons. This is a 9-week program for Detroiters who are over 18 with training and employment opportunities. This allows for a pathway into an apprenticeship or employment in the skilled trades.

“By 2024, professional trades will account for more than 500,000 jobs in the Michigan economy, with 15,000 new job openings added each year during that apprenticeshipstime,” writes Roger Curtis, director of the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development and Brian Whiston, Michigan’s state superintendent. Companies will be struggling to fill these open positions if people don’t start reconsidering a job in the skilled trades. These apprenticeship programs and others will help prepare Michigan for jobs now and into the future.

If you are interested in employment at Lee Contracting, you can fill out an online application here.