Greater Michigan Construction Academy Receives the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation Grant
MIDLAND, MI Greater Michigan Construction Academy (GMCA) announces it is the recipient of a $317,000 grant to construct a welding lab within the GMCA Midland Training Center to support Midland County, Michigan, high school students.
With the demand for quality, certified welders increasing not only in Michigan but also across the United States, the need to offer a high-level training lab has been a priority for GMCA leadership. A grant was submitted to The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation for funding of this lab.
"I'm so humbled by this grant and thrilled about the opportunity to provide world class skilled trades training to Midland County students," said Jimmy Greene, President and CEO ABC Greater Michigan Chapter and Greater Michigan Construction Academy. "This grant provides a huge boost to ensure that happened. We'll make our community proud of the outcomes for years to come."
"Welding is one of the few career choices that is always in high demand. Since welding is used in almost every industry, welders have the flexibility to switch industries without changing careers. The investment exemplifies our foundation's commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education and training," said Mike Whiting, President of the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 5 percent job growth for welders for the decade from 2006 to 2016. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average age of workers in the skilled trades - including welders - is 58 to 60 years old. In the next five to 10 years, many of these workers will leave the workforce and will need to be replaced.
Stephanie Davis, GMCA Director of Education said, "Creating a top notch welding lab in our facility has been something that has been on our list of needs since we moved into our new training facility three years ago. We are extremely excited to finally be able to offer this type of training. Not only as a standalone welding curriculum but also as additional hands-on training for a variety of trades that need welding skills to succeed and excel."
GMCA has been working in collaboration with area high schools on the development of a Career & Technical Education (CTE) program in the construction trades. Twelve juniors and seniors from Bullock Creek, Meridian, and Coleman high schools have been attending GMCA daily from 7:30 - 9:30am as part of their school day. Students have completed the Core curriculum, which is a pre-requisite for any trade and consists of basic safety and construction information and are now on their level one training in either Electrical or HVAC. With the awarding of this grant, welding will be added to the available trades offered to these students.
The certifications students receive at GMCA while still in high school give them the jump-start they need to enter the workforce sooner. Joining the CTE program as a junior would provide a graduating senior a nationally recognized second-year certification in their trade. Students would then be able to find employment with a local construction company and complete the remainder of their training through the traditional GMCA classes offered one evening a week, saving them time and money.
"The growth projected in our CTE program is astounding. We have students already registered for the 2015-16 school year and more school districts coming on board to enhance their education and training. In the fall, we will be not only welcoming back students from our current schools but additional students from Midland public schools and other area high schools," said Bridget Sadenwater, CTE Director at the Greater Michigan Construction Academy.
The GMCA welding lab committee will be meeting next week to begin the work that will make the welding lab a reality. The project will take place during the summer and be utilized in August with the start of the fall semester.