Hillsdale Daily News: Talking jobs: Discussion centers on skilled trades
HILLSDALE — Congressman Tim Walberg hosted a community forum on jobs and skilled trades education at Hillsdale Community Library on Friday afternoon.
The Republican representative was joined for the panel discussion by four county representatives whose work has a direct impact on the development of the county’s workforce: Bill Nobles, Brooke Ballee-Stone, Donny Crumbay and Sue Smith.
Nobles, heads up the Litchfield Regional Training Center, Ballee-Stone is the principal of the Hillsdale Area Career Center, Crumbay handles human resources and corporate training for Jonesville’s Martinrea and Sue Smith is the executive director of the Hillsdale County Economic Development Partnership.
The panel was joined by a group of more than 20 community members, including State Rep. Eric Leutheuser.
Walberg opened up the discussion with a brief 10-minute speech on the need for a renewed emphasis on the importance of skilled trade training, and cited his support for Gov. Rick Snyder’s $100 million Marshall Plan for Talent, which aims to invigorate training and support programs for Michigan residents who want to pursue education for jobs outside the structure of a 4-year college degree.
He also cited the recently passed Republican tax plan as a step in the right fiscal direction.
“This year is the last year that you’re going to have to file your taxes under the old law,” he said. “And that’s progress.”
After Walberg spoke, he ceded the floor and passed the microphone to his co-presenters. Nobles, Ballee-Stone, Crumbay and Smith then briefed the audience on what their organizations do to help educate and prepare the local workforce.
“One size doesn’t fit all in training,” Nobles said, explaining that the LRTC brings in experienced instructors in a variety of practices, who he dubbed “masters of their field,” to teach a wide array of trades.
Ballee-Stone positioned the Career Center as a helpful place for students to figure out what they want in a career.
“What we offer our students is to come and learn a trade or to learn, maybe, what they don’t want to do before they spend the money on college,” she said.
Crumbay spoke about Martinrea’s dedication to their workers and resulting high retention rate.
Next up, Smith gave an overview of the role of the EDP and cited a need for more politicians like the event’s host.
“We need people like Tim Walberg in Washington because he understands how [business] works,” she said. “He understands what we do.”
After the presenters had finished introducing themselves and their work, the floor was opened up to questions from the audience.
The presenters fielded questions on a variety of topics including where their organizations get their funding; the children of undocumented immigrants, often called the Dreamers; child care for employees; transportation issues and the gap between the amount of jobs available in Hillsdale and workers trained to do them.
This article originally appeared in the February 24 edition of the Hillsdale Daily News.