COLUMN: Investing in skilled trade programs will help more northern Michigan students succeed

Categories: Allor News

While Michigan’s economy is clearly much healthier now than it was a decade ago, it’s critical to continue making smart, sensible investments to set our children and grandchildren up for success in the future.

I am proud to say the K-12 school budget I supported last month is the largest investment in Michigan history. It totals $14.8 million – more than a quarter of our total budget – and adds $120 to $240 in funding per student – the largest increase in 15 years.

One of the best ways to set our school children up for success is to give them opportunities to train for the technical and skilled trade jobs in highest demand. Michigan is projected to have hundreds of thousands of job openings in high-demand, good-paying careers over the next several years. And many of these jobs are going unfilled because there are not enough people with the necessary tools needed to do the work.

The new budget makes a $100 million investment in the Marshall Plan for Talent to advance skilled trades opportunities for Michigan students. This investment is essential to expand and start innovative programs, promote training, provide scholarships and take other steps to create more opportunities for students and workers to learn the skills they need for success.

Additionally, I sponsored legislation to help better connect skilled trade students with potential careers after high school. The plan, which requires parental consent, gives training schools, community colleges and skilled trade employers access to high school pupil directory information for the purposes of recruitment and professional development.

These efforts will give northern Michigan students new opportunities to prepare for jobs in the information technology and computer science, health care, and high-skilled manufacturing industries.

In addition to the investments made in the next budget, I’m excited to announce that plans for the upgrade to Alpena Community College’s VanLare Hall are starting to take shape. The project, made possible by $3.4 million in state funding I fought to include in this year’s state budget, includes a new nursing wing. Future nurses in our community will benefit from the upgrades, which will allow them to learn to use the latest equipment and technology available.

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State Rep. Sue Allor, of Wolverine, is serving her first term in the Michigan House representing the people of Alpena, Presque Isle, Alcona and Iosco counties, as well as part of Cheboygan County. She previously served three terms as a Cheboygan County Commissioner.