By: Deborah Johnson Wood
Some 31,000 unemployed or underemployed workers in Michigan have enrolled in job training for new careers through the state government’s No Worker Left Behind program. Launched a year ago, the program uses a partnership of community colleges, Michigan Works!, and business, education and labor leaders to provide two years of free training in high-demand skill areas to help Michigan workers find better paying jobs or establish themselves in new careers.
To date some 11,000 have completed training and 9,000 are on waiting lists for training.
Participants who qualify earn a certification or a degree, or acquire the skills needed to launch their own businesses. As the focus on alternative energy and ‘green’ jobs intensifies, demand for skilled workers in these fields is also growing.
For example, Biotech Agronomics in Beulah hired five No Worker Left Behind graduates to help the company meet the increasing demand of farmers for repurposed wastewater from municipalities for agricultural use.
And while Beulah is well outside the Grand Rapids jobs market, the alternative energy and emerging industries are on the increase locally as companies such as Cascade Engineering boost manufacturing in residential wind turbines, MAREC's biodigester technologies take hold and become more commonly used, and United Solar Ovonic meets the increasing demand for solar power. As these industries grow locally, so will the need for skilled local workers.
The second year of the NWLB initiative features a new $6 million Green Jobs Initiative that targets emerging industries such as alternative energy production, green building construction, and natural resource conservation. The initiative will develop education and training through colleges, entrepreneurs and employers for workers wishing to establish new "green" careers.
Source: State of Michigan
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Deborah Johnson Wood is the development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected].