By Kayla Tucker – Managing Editor
President Barack Obama announced Sept. 9 at Macomb Community College that 46 colleges will benefit from a $175 million federal grant “to create and expand apprenticeship programs for high-demand fields.” As a result, graduates of Grand Rapids Community College and MCC will have the opportunity to receive more assistance in gaining a job after graduation.
Combining their parts of the grant, GRCC and MCC will share $3.9 million to create the Michigan Apprenticeship Program Plus (MAP+). The schools will target career opportunities in Allegan, Barry, Kent, Macomb, Oakland, Ottawa, St. Clair and Wayne counties. These areas account for nearly half of the state’s population.
GRCC is going to focus on information technology and manufacturing occupational opportunities. The college is partnering with career industries including Spectrum Health, Haworth, the city of Grand Rapids, Perrigo, Randstad Technologies and Autocam Precision Components Group.
GRCC has almost 400 active apprenticeships currently, and with the creation of the MAP+ agreement there are an additional 600 projected apprenticeships to be filled in the next five years. The apprenticeships are to be fulfilled by a degree-seeking student.
“It’s great preparation as far as a skill but it’s also great in terms of putting (students) on a forward and upward trajectory for their career,” said Bill Pink, Dean of Workforce Development. “It takes something that we do very well in this space and it allows us to expand some of the things with it to bolster that number.”
In addition to associate graduates, GRCC is certified as a Cisco Academy, which “allows students to be certified with industry-demanded credentials in information technology occupations,” so students can gain certification and move on to the industry partners.
The college also has plans to create more clear career pathways with the Kent Career Technical Center for pre-apprenticeship high school programs.
“You don’t have to necessarily (get) a four-year degree to get a good job, but you need to have some specialized skills,” Obama said in the speech yesterday.
Pink said for GRCC to be recognized nationally like this speaks volumes for the institution and the state.
“When, on a national level, GRCC is recognized in this way I think it’s speaks boldly for the good things that are happening in this institution and for this institution,” Pink said.