U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin announced their support for new high-tech job training opportunities offered by the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program for workers whose jobs were outsourced due to international trade. Henry Ford and Washtenaw Community colleges will be hosting the program to retrain workers in new or updated fields and prepare them for future jobs.
“For Michigan to be competitive in the global economy, it’s critical our workers have the right skills and training opportunities to help out businesses create the jobs of the future here in Michigan,” Stabenow said in a press release. “Henry Ford and Washtenaw Community colleges are rising to that challenge by preparing workers, whose jobs have been outsourced through no fault of their own, with the skills to match the needs of emerging high-tech industries.”
Henry Ford Community College will receive a $15 million grant and Washtenaw Community College will receive a $2.5 million grant. The grants were awarded through the Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training Program.
In a press release, Levin said the grants will provide important support to Michigan community colleges that have been engaged in providing such training efforts.
Michael Tidwell, dean of the College of Business at Eastern Michigan University, said these programs are critical for displaced workers who, often times, have skills that they believe are only essential to a specific industry.
“The workers may need help understanding how to take their knowledge and reapply it in new and unique ways,” Tidwell said. “These types of programs make that possible.”
Tidwell said if he were in the position of one of these workers he would consider this training program. He said displaced workers seeking employment should retrain to consider present and future jobs.
“Manufacturing is oftentimes sent overseas because it can be done cheaper and faster offshore,” Tidwell said. “It may be some time before we see any increase in traditional manufacturing here in the U.S.”
As of fiscal year 2011, 66 percent of the people who exited the program, which has existed since the 1960s, found employment within three months. Marketing major Shannon Gruschke, a junior at EMU, said she thinks this program could help because technology is rising and older generations have a hard time keeping up.
“Most parents and grandparents do not understand how to work computers and programs like Microsoft,” Gruschke said. “Future jobs will need future employees to operate on these systems.”
Gruschke said college students could try to prevent themselves from getting into these situations by focusing on careers that are not likely to get outsourced. She also said more education, such as taking additional courses like budgeting, computer and finance classes will benefit current students.
“My mother lost her job due to outsourcing,” Gruschke said. “This program would benefit her extremely, because the only thing she knows how to do on a computer is opening Facebook.”
Marketing minor Scott Ariganello said this type of program is important because our society needs educated and highly trained workers. He said people who worked jobs that were eventually outsourced were usually only trained for that specific position.
“Without any other training, they are not able to get jobs where they can receive anywhere close to the same amount of compensation and are no longer good assets to society,” Ariganello said. “With this program, they can get jobs in other fields and once again be highly productive citizens and keep other jobs from being outsourced as well.”
Tidwell said technology and globalization are changing the world in ways we never thought were possible.
“Today’s college students must develop key skills in areas like critical thinking, communication, math and business,” Tidwell said.
“They also have to maintain the willingness to adapt these skills and their mental framework to the workplace and societal situations they are confronted with.”
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