GRCC getting $3.9M federal grant to train more high-skilled workers

Posted at 10:44 AM, Sep 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-09 19:24:46-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — We’re going to renew our nation’s promise, rebuild our middle class and remind the world why America is the greatest country on earth, President Obama told a packed crowd in Michigan Wednesday afternoon.

During his speech in Metro Detroit, Obama announced a $175 million Labor Department program which could create 34,000 apprenticeships around the country, with money included for Grand Rapids Community College.

GRCC is one of 46 partners that will benefit. The speech took place at Macomb Community College in Warren, near Detroit.

GRCC, in a partnership with Macomb Community College, will create the Michigan Apprenticeship Program Plus. The partnership will receive $3.9 million of the U.S. Department of Labor grant to meet employer demand for high-skilled talent.

"We will take incumbent workers and bolster their skills, bolster their education, to where by the time they’re done we’re talking an associate’s degree and an associates in a specific area associated with their training," Dr. Bill Pink, vice president of GRCC told FOX 17.

Pink along with several others from GRCC leadership were in attendance for Wednesday's speech on the east side of the state. Pink said the school learned they'd been awarded the grant earlier the same morning.

We’re bringing $4 million dollars to the state of Michigan to help train up and help our industry partners, you can’t go wrong," Pink said.

"Whether it be I-T, healthcare, manufacturing, we must have pipelines readily available to supply more workers."

It's a perfect storm of sorts: an aging workforce coupled with jobs increasingly requiring more advanced education to fulfill mean apprenticeship opportunities are key to continuing to improve the state's job market. Pink said.

“As industry changes, we need to make sure we’re helping our industry partners to be as nimble as possible," he said.

The Michigan Apprenticeship Program Plus will target eight Michigan counties—Allegan, Barry, Kent, Macomb, Oakland, Ottawa, St. Clair and Wayne—which together comprise 51 percent of the state’s population.

GRCC will work with local industry partners like Spectrum Health, Haworth, the city of Grand Rapids, Perrigo, Randstad Technologies and Autocam Precision Components Group.

The president also announced plans to create a national advisory board to advance a proposal he rolled out earlier in the year aimed at making community college free for a majority of students. The advisory board will be headed by second lady Jill Biden, who was also in attendance for Wednesday's speech.