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Building the future in northern Michigan

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Northern Michigan is blessed with great educational institutions that provide our residents with the knowledge, skills and abilities to lead successful careers.

I had the great fortune of visiting one of the many located in the 37th Senate District in August – the Great Lakes Boat Building School (GLBBS) in the Les Cheneaux Islands off the coast of the eastern Upper Peninsula. The school operates out of a modern 12,000 square foot facility, designed, as the school notes, specifically for the teaching of woodworking, basic design, traditional and modern boat building, and yacht joinery. Indeed this is an excellent program with excellent people focused on continuing Michigan’s great maritime heritage.

GLBBS is world-renowned and the only one of its kind in Michigan, teaching students unparalleled wooden boat building and craftsmanship skills. I think it speaks volumes that graduates from the school have a 100 percent job placement rate.

The school is part of a career technical education renaissance in our state, offering those students for whom a traditional four year university is not the best option a great opportunity to learn a skill that can make for a great career.

Gov. Rick Snyder has made it an emphasis, and I fully agree, to make a concerted effort to expand Michigan’s career and technical education programs. Not only do they provide attendees with a great education, but they also promote economic growth throughout our region and state by producing workers with the necessary skills to fill an increasingly long list of job openings. I continue to hear from job providers that their businesses are doing great but what is limiting their growth is a lack of skilled workers. CTE programs are doing a great job of resolving this barrier to economic growth.

Another way to promote this growth is by focusing on K-12 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. Building that solid foundation at an early age not only better prepares them for future educational opportunities, but also can spark an interest in pursuing a highly skilled profession.

It’s great to know that northern Michigan has such a vibrant and successful CTE program like GLBBS working to prepare the next generation of Michiganders for the workforce.

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