Skilled trades 'critical' for Michigan's ressurgence

There is more positive news about the Detroit area and that’s the surge in manufacturing jobs in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties in 2014.

A national research company ranked Wayne County Number One in the nation for growth in manufacturing work after adding 4,225 jobs, up more than five percent versus 2013.

These  numbers reflect improvement in the automotive sector but the report cites specialty manufacturing as a major factor in the strong growth. Metro Detroit is fast becoming a place that supports small-scale manufacturing with an entrepreneurial spirit including a local food manufacturing economy and the new bike building industry led by Shinola and Detroit Bikes.

Despite these positives, and the presence of many smaller scale employers looking for talented people, we still have high unemployment among young adults in the city.

The talent shortage is real and  every effort needs to be made to match future demands from these employers with our young and emerging work force. So how do we match young people looking for good jobs with employers looking for a more skilled work force?

One effort announced at the Mackinac Business Policy Conference this year attacks the issue head on.

Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” fame and his foundation Mikeroweworks has partnered with the state of Michigan to produce videos demonstrating how the skilled trades provide good, sustainable career paths.

These videos highlight industries like tool and die, welding, construction and health care. They make a strong case for teens and young adults to consider these careers because there is demand and they can earn a good wage. 

The state of Michigan has made a concentrated effort to get out the word about the skilled trades. While Detroit and Michigan have made a remarkable turnaround from the recession it is now critical to focus on matching the work force to employer demands.

I urge parents and educators to join the efforts of Mike Rowe and the state of Michigan to make young people aware of these exciting possibilities. You can find more information about jobs in Michigan here.

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