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U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow: skilled workers in high demand across Michigan

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United States Senator Debbie Stabenow continued her statewide series of workforce discussions in Grand Rapids Wednesday afternoon in an effort to learn how Michigan can better fill the demand for skilled workers. Visiting West Michigan on a statewide “listening tour” the Senator is focusing on professional career and training opportunities for students who don’t choose a four-year college path after high school or workers who want to be retrained for new jobs. Skilled labor is in high demand in West Michigan, especially in the manufacturing industry.

“After visiting 110 different small business around Michigan in an ongoing effort, I have found that the number one issue of every single business I have been to is, having the skilled the workforce they need. And certainly that is true for manufactures, and I hear it again today,” Stabenow said.  

The Kent Intermediate School District is trying to meet this need head on with a new program this year called ‘Launch U.’ a Middle College concept where students attend high school for 5 years graduating with a diploma, associate’s degree and certifications that will allow them to enter into the manufacturing industry, where skilled labor jobs pay good money.

“The highest rate of employability is in manufacturing in West Michigan," Smith said. "Manufacturing jobs its clean manufacturing, its robotics, its different types of technology that enhances the production process. So we have to change our mindset that the manufacturing world isn’t the 1960’s auto lab. It is a much different place,” Smith said.  

Meanwhile Senator Stabenow said she plans to reintroduce the "Strong Skills, Strong Jobs" bill in the fall that aims to build job training partnerships between community colleges and local businesses.

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