Operating Engineers 324 Back Legislation Expanding Technical Education Opportunities
Leaders Testified Today On Package Updating Michigan Merit Curriculum Before the House Workforce Development Committee
LANSING –– Today, leaders from Operating Engineers 324 testified in support of a package of bills that would strengthen careers in the skilled trades by expanding technical education opportunities for Michigan high school students. The bills (HB 4315, 4316, 4317 and 4318) are before the House Workforce Development Committee. The Operating Engineers encourage the House and Senate to take swift action.
The House package would update the Michigan Merit curriculum with a “21st Century Skills” requirement. Students looking at the skilled trades can develop a path that will truly help them prepare for this bright future and ensure their success in the apprenticeship program they choose. There are many of these good-paying jobs open in Michigan, but too many workers don’t know about them or have the right training. These bills will make sure that students can get on the right path to success.
“We have a duty to do everything within our power to help students explore the opportunities outside of four-year institutions that might spark their passions and provide them with a fulfilling, rewarding and financially empowering career,” said Douglas Stockwell, Business Manager for Operating Engineers 324. “Registered Apprenticeships can be that door to many, but so few are even aware of the benefits and opportunities they provide. This is a dynamic we must work to change, and these bills will help do so. Michigan has done a great job of adapting its high school curriculum requirements to better prepare college-bound seniors, but it is now time to expand these efforts to include those for whom registered apprenticeships provide the most exciting opportunities.”
Aging infrastructure poses a huge challenge in Michigan and across the country. The Governor’s commission on 21st Century Infrastructure put it into very certain terms: 36% of our roads are in poor condition and we have 1,200 failing bridges. Our power grid, water and gas delivery and transportation hubs need investment. We need a highly-skilled workforce to help meet these challenges.
“To keep Michigan moving, we are going to need to make significant investment in our infrastructure,” said Nic Clark, Political and Legislative Director of Operating Engineers 324. “There is also positive news of the large-scale reinvestment going into developments around the state, including a new international crossing in Detroit and entertainment complexes in Grand Rapids and Detroit. These projects require a highly-trained skilled workforce. For the good of our state, these jobs should go to Michigan residents, working for Michigan companies. It is vital that we invest in our future and apprenticeships. In order to do that, we must help educators who guide students to these career options.”
The package would adapt the Michigan Merit curriculum to help guarantee success for students in apprenticeship programs so they’re prepared for the jobs of tomorrow. The bills would make sure that all students’ needs would be addressed, not just those planning to attend four-year colleges.
“Every apprentice in the skilled trades goes to school and gaining real world experience through on-the-job training simultaneously. Employers want apprentices who are both as prepared for this type of work as they can be, and are motivated to do this type of work,” said Howard Hipes, Treasurer of the Michigan Apprenticeship Steering Committee (MASCI) and Training Coordinator for the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers of Michigan. “This legislation addresses the two things we most commonly hear from employers and our instructors: that the learning curve for those entering the workforce can be too prohibitive, and the earlier we can make impact on apprentice’s education and habits, the more efficient our businesses and successful our workers are.”
The Operating Engineers 324 thanks Chairman Frederick for his support and holding hearings on this important package of legislation.