New Michigan Skilled Trades Initiative

MACKINAC ISLAND, MI — Mike Rowe made dirty jobs look cool. Can he do the same for the tool and die industry?

The state today at the Mackinac Policy Conference announced a partnership with Rowe and his foundation, mikeroweWORKS, to produce videos that show students skilled trades are sustainable, good career paths. Rowe’s videos, targeted to middle and high school students, will highlight industries like tool and die, health care, construction and welding.

“Closing the skills gap is not about creating opportunity. It’s about making sure that people understand all of the opportunities that currently exist,” Rowe said Wednesday. “Michigan is doing the right thing by getting the word out, and mikeroweWorks is honored to help.”

Videos featuring Tom Daldin of Under the Radar Michigan will target students in kindergarten through fifth grade, and focus on careers like manufacturing and agricultural industries. In total 11 videos are available. Watch them all here.

Rowe and his foundation aren’t new to work like this. He’s helped other states looking to bolster their skilled trades, and says some public relations is necessary to change the conversation about these types of careers, which are in demand.

Michigan’s Talent Investment Agency Director Stephanie Comai said according to the agency’s calculations, “we expect to have 6,700 jobs open every year from now until 2022 in the skilled trades.”

Those are big numbers, and with an aging skilled trades workforce the state is working preemptively to help get some talent in the pipeline.Mike at Mackinac - Detroit Chamber

When Gov. Rick Snyder went to school, he said about half the students in his class would go to vocational training. Now, that’s not as common. He’s out to change that, in part through educating students and parents with these videos.

“I’ve been talking about the skilled trades for years now. It is a top priority for this administration, and it needs to be for the entire state,” Snyder said.

Earlier this year Snyder created a new state department, Talent and Economic Development, and a new agency under it, the Talent Investment Agency. These organizations are focused on helping match Michiganders with in-demand careers and filling the career pipeline with qualified candidates.

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