WAYLAND, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow cut the ribbon on a new skilled trades training center Monday in Wayland.
The facility, the Michigan Statewide Carpenters and Millwrights Skilled Training Center, is a state-of-the-art, 67,000-square-foot building located at 500 Reno Dr. in Wayland. It will provide real-world training to the state’s future carpenters and millwrights who will work on Michigan’s infrastructure.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Whitmer said Michigan has a shortage of people with skills beyond high school, and the training center will be critical to the state’s economy and future.
“It’s extremely important, there’s always going to be work for people that have to use their hands, and we are the best of the best,” said Thomas Noe, a journeyman millwright. “We are the most sought after and highly trained people in the industry.”
The facility is being funded by the Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, a major investment to help strengthen a dwindling workforce.
“There’s so many opportunities for the generations that are coming up to better themselves, not everyone wants a desk job or have a 9 to 5,” Noe said. “But there are so few people that want to go into the trade, the job market is just seeking out and eager to keep finding more and more people that want to work with their hands.”
Michigan’s Department of Talent and Economic Development predicts over 500,000 skilled trade professionals will be needed to fill jobs over the next seven years.
“Together, when we can close the damn skills gap, when we fix the damn roads, we make this the state that shows the world: Michigan is still the place where you can get ahead if you’re a hardworking person and have a skill, you’ve got a great future in this state,” Whitmer said.
Anyone with a high school diploma or GED can apply to become an apprentice. Those in the program don’t pay tuition and earn wages, healthcare and pension benefits while they train.
About 300 people are already training at the facility, and it has room for about 450-500 people at a time.