This story was originally published on on August 3, 2018. Click here to view the original story on the Detroit Free Press website. 

CNBC recently declared Michigan a Top 10 State for “Winning the War on Talent” in its America’s Top States for Business study. More Michigan employers and educators are using apprenticeships to train job seekers for new careers, a trend that will continue as federal and state governments focus on the programs.

At the same time, a new statewide survey – commissioned by the Michigan Talent Investment Agency and summarized in the infographic below – shows more work remains to improve public understanding of the benefits and opportunities that professional trade careers and apprenticeships provide.

To address the findings from the survey, leaders in business, education and talent development are promoting the Michigan Apprenticeship Experience Sooner campaign, a new effort focused on elevating the knowledge of students, parents, educators and employers about the increasingly important role apprenticeships play in meeting the state’s current and future workforce needs.

According to reports, the gap between the number of skilled trades workers and jobs will continue to grow as baby boomers – who hold the majority of skilled trades jobs in both Michigan and the country – retire. And the rate at which workers are graduating from the very limited vocational education programs available simply cannot support the ever-growing need. In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that while 68 percent of high school graduates go to college, 40 percent of them won’t graduate. Meaning, almost half of college-bound kids will end up in debt, with nothing to show for it. Forbes reported in 2017 the average graduate leaves college $37,172 in debt.

Meanwhile, skilled trades apprenticeships offer “earn-and-learn” opportunities that put high school grads in a position to quickly attain full-time work with competitive pay. A skilled trades job report by the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives asserts that “the skilled trades provide an increasing alternative to spending a lengthy period of time earning a college degree.” The report also shows that skilled trades workers have a wage range of $12 to $33 with a median hourly income of $21, which is competitive pay for a job that comes with little to no student loan debt.

Experience Sooner is helping Michigan to continue winning the war on talent while supporting our state’s push to bridge the skills gap.


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