Big job-training program headed for MCC

Sep 23, 2013


Good-paying jobs in an array of manufacturing fields will be generated in Macomb County thanks to the $9.6 million job-training grant received last week by Macomb Community College from the U.S. Department of Labor.

A bipartisan group of officials gathered in Warren on Monday to celebrate the good news, predicting that the infusion of federal dollars will result in thousands of displaced workers gaining new careers in basics like welding and fabrication, or in high-tech computer numerical control (CNC) machining.

U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, who initiated the federal training program for those who lost a manufacturing job due to international trade policies, said the “right approach” is to establish a state/federal role to prepare American workers for the new blue-collar world.

“This is not just a grant, this is a stepping stone … to make sure our workers have a job,” said U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, a Harrison Township Republican. “Macomb County did not attempt to reinvent itself after a painful economic transition. We stuck with our heritage and doubled-down on manufacturing.”

The Labor Department awarded $25 million to the MCC-led Michigan Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing, or M-CAM, which consists of eight community colleges stretching from Flint to Lansing to Benton Harbor to Grand Rapids and east to Battle Creek and southeast Michigan.

While no estimates are offered regarding the number of unemployed or underemployed workers who will benefit, the M-CAM service area is comprised of 58,000 people adversely affected by jobs going overseas.

The eight colleges will use to the funds to create 13 new “industry-focused” academic credentials and upgrade or modify 63 certificate and degree programs.

MCC President Jim Jacobs, a veteran economist, earned repeated praise at Monday’s event for pursuing innovations that allow students to gain training that matches the needs of the private sector.

“No major, advanced country can prosper without a strong manufacturing base,” said Jacobs, addressing a small crowd at the college’s Michigan Technical Education Center. “It’s fundamental to the growth and success of this country.”

In addition to CNC machining, welding and fabrication, some job-training participants will learn about the broad-based technical aspects of a modern factory floor – electronics, mechanics, pneumatics, hydraulics and computer programs – that will pave the way for a job as a supervisory technician or an overall “fix-it” employee.

The new grant marks the third round of federal job-training funding for MCC and the M-CAM group, with the most recent allocation a $5 million award for Macomb with an emphasis on defense industry jobs.

“Without Macomb County,” Levin said, “there is a good chance -- a very good chance -- that there would not be a (college consortium).”

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