Senator Stabenow Continues Statewide Series of Workforce Discussions in Traverse City

Thursday, August 31, 2017

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow today continued her week-long series of workforce discussions across Michigan at Northwestern Michigan College's Hagerty Center in Traverse City. The discussion focused on how to better fill the demand for skilled workers in Michigan and provide 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. Stabenow met with local business and labor leaders, Northwestern Michigan College, and Grand Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District.

Senator Stabenow frequently meets with business owners who express a critical need for more skilled workers, labor leaders who offer opportunities for training and apprenticeships for good paying jobs in the skilled trades, parents frustrated with the lack of opportunities for their children who are not college bound, and educators who are innovating to meet these needs. She is bringing these leaders together in communities across the state to discuss how we can partner to meet the needs of employers and provide job opportunities for all Michigan workers and students.


“I’ve visited over 110 small businesses in the past year and the number one issue I hear about is the need for more skilled workers,” said Senator Stabenow, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Senate Manufacturing Caucus. “Not every young person is interested in getting a four-year college degree. It’s important that they know there are great jobs in professional skilled trades and technical careers. To grow our economy for businesses and workers, we all need to work together to raise public awareness of these great job opportunities across Michigan.”


“Community colleges are uniquely situated to provide learners with the skills and tools necessary to compete and succeed in the 21st Century economy,” said Timothy J. Nelson, President of Northwestern Michigan College. “To address these needs, we at NMC are continuously transforming the learning experience and its global relevance to those we serve through innovation, agility and thoughtful risk-taking.  We appreciate Senator Stabenow’s support in this effort and for recognizing the importance of the community college model in continued economic growth and success.”


“Manufacturing is alive and well in Northern Michigan!” said Kevin Schlueter, President and CEO of Kalkaska Screw Products. “I am confident that all manufacturers, here and all over the United States, are struggling with finding employees with the skills necessary to work in our facilities.  Most, if not all, manufacturers have positions to fill and the pool of potential employees is extremely small and un-skilled.  We all need to do more to train potential employees that want to work in manufacturing, or, financially support those of us that are training new employees to work in our plants.  I stand ready to work with any and all that are willing to work on improving the skill-set of employees who want to work in manufacturing.


“As educators, we must make sure we are preparing our students for every opportunity after they graduate high school,” said Mike Hill, Superintendent of the Grand Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District. “Our region and state is in need of skilled labor.  Our mission is to prepare our young people for successful future employment. We are excited to host Senator Stabenow for this important discussion to shine light on high wage job opportunities, which may not require a four year post-secondary degree.”


Senator Stabenow authored the New Skills for New Jobs Act of 2015 that builds on successful job training partnerships between our community colleges and local businesses to help close the skills gap and support businesses that are ready to hire. Stabenow plans to reintroduce this legislation in the fall following feedback from stakeholders during her workforce discussions.  


According to a study conducted by National Association of Manufacturers and Deloitte, by 2025, over 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled. Yet due to the skills gap, 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled. The study also revealed that while Americans consider manufacturing among one of the most important domestic industries for maintaining a strong national economy, they rank it low as a career choice for themselves. Only 37 percent of respondents in the study indicated they would encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career.