By state Rep. Julie Calley of Portland
Continuing Michigan’s economic comeback is vital for our future. We need sound policy measures that help our state become a better place to live, work and raise a family – like the Going PRO initiative.
Established in 2014 as the Skilled Trades Training Fund, Going PRO has been one of the most effective resources available to address Michigan’s talent crisis, providing grants to employers for short-term training. Nearly 2,500 new workers were trained and almost 4,500 new workers were hired just in the last budget year across seven counties in West Michigan (Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon and Ottawa) with funding from the program, according to American Job Center partner West Michigan Works.
The training is sorely needed because our state will be looking at an estimated 545,000 job openings by 2026 in sectors such as healthcare, information technology, advanced manufacturing, construction and automotive. These are openings that, if filled, can provide people with sustainable income while putting Michigan on the economic fast track. Job providers look to states that are working to provide available talent and Going PRO has been a well-documented guiding light.
That’s why the governor’s veto of Going PRO funding for the upcoming budget year is a surprising and disappointing turn. Her actions would close a door on opportunity and make Michigan less versatile and competitive in the future when it comes to cultivating its workforce. The original budget plan sent to the governor by the Legislature continued funding for this important program and I am going to work to see that it’s restored.
Over 350 employers in the previously mentioned seven-county West Michigan region have submitted funding requests for training for the upcoming year, including 179 that have never applied before. These job providers are waiting to see if funding for this program will continue, as their ability to invest in their workforce and the economic well-being of our region hangs in the balance.
This is very likely the case across the entire state. Since 2014, it is estimated that more than 16,000 workers from more than 2,200 companies have benefitted from Going PRO as Michigan has concentrated on increasing talent development, productivity and employee retention.
Here’s the fundamental and straightforward truth: the governor is making it harder for people in Michigan to get good-paying jobs by getting rid of this program. I will be striving for its restoration as budget negotiations continue. Jobs and prosperity for people in Michigan are depending on it.
State Rep. Julie Calley, of Portland, is in her second term in the Michigan House serving residents in the 87th District. This encompasses all of Barry County and several communities in Ionia County, including the townships of Boston, Campbell, Danby, Keene, Lyons, North Plains, Odessa, Orange, Portland, Ronald and Sebewa, as well as most of Berlin Township and the City of Portland.