Michigan community colleges receive $50M for job training

Macomb, Oakland, and Henry Ford all receive grants

By Nick Monacelli - Reporter

WARREN, Mich. - Eighteen Michigan community colleges will receive $50 million to help train skilled workers.

A combination of attrition and the resurgence of manufacturing has created a huge gap in the labor force, necessitating this increase in funding for training programs.

Each of the 18 colleges will use the money differently, but the goal at each is to give students an opportunity to be credentialed for these in-demand jobs.

Macomb Community College will $3.8 million for welding, Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machining, automotive manufacturing and more.

“On a CNC machine, if you mess up, you crash the machine, just like if you were driving a car,” said Macomb instructor John Kovalchuch.

One of his students, Tony Astarita, hasn’t worked for more than a year. He's already receiving job offers, even before graduating.

“I’m trying to stay composed, I’m almost jumping up and down,” said Astarita. “Not that they're knocking down my door, but e-mails, phone calls, you don’t really see that anymore.”

In addition to Macomb, both Henry Ford Community College and Oakland Community College each received more than $6 million in new grants.

Between the three, the programs range from automotive repair to welding; and all of them are constantly changing with technology.

“Yeah, it changes really fast,” said Holger Ekanger of Macomb Community College. “This allows us to stay current with their changes.”

Ekanger says depending on the program, students can earn a certificate, or a certificate and an associate’s degree.

The skills learn translate into jobs that usually start between $14 and $16 an hour.

“It’s like teaching a person to fish,” said Kovalchuch. “This is teaching people a skill that they’ll have for a lifetime.”

For more information on the skilled trades programs, visit the college websites or call the admissions office. Scholarships and other financial aid are available, especially to those unemployed.

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