02/21/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/21/2020 16:19
LANSING, MI - U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) made stops in Saginaw, Coopersville and Lansing over the past week to discuss his efforts to expand apprenticeship opportunities for Michiganders. Peters spoke and met with veterans, career and technical education (CTE) specialists and UA local chapter members about the importance of skilled trades to Michigan's future and how to ensure students and apprentices can access the training needed for successful careers.
Peters has championed numerous efforts to help more Michiganders gain the skills needed to fill good-paying jobs. Most recently, the Senate unanimously passed Peters' bipartisan legislation in December to expand apprenticeship opportunities for veterans. The Support for Veterans in Effective Apprenticeships Act would increase veterans' access to financial assistance they can use in connection with an apprenticeship program. In Michigan alone, only a few hundred of the 1,000 registered apprenticeships listed as active by the Department of Labor (DOL) have been approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Peters also authored provisions to expand school counselor training and awareness of career and technical education opportunities that were signed into law by President Trump in 2018.
'Senator Gary Peters was in Saginaw today touting legislation he says will expand the apprenticeships available to veterans in Michigan. Peters sponsored this bipartisan bill and today, he stopped by the US Local 85 Pipe, Fitting and Plumbing union. They offer apprenticeships and Peters says right now there are 1,100 similar programs across the state, but only 200 are actually recognized by the VA, but he says these careers can be perfect for veterans.
''It literally has transformed their lives. It can be scary when you come out of the military and if you have a family, what are you going to do for a living? But you can get into these apprenticeship programs, learn a skill, and have a very good life.'
'This legislation is currently in the U.S. House. Peters says that he does expect some strong support there as well. This passed unanimously in the Senate and he hopes to get this into law very soon.'
'In December…the Senate unanimously passed his Support for Veterans in Effective Apprenticeships Act. The act aims to increase the amount of funds available for veterans seeking apprenticeships upon return to civilian life.
'He said the Michigan Department of Labor currently offers around 1,100 apprenticeships, but the VA only has approved around 200 of them. If passed by the House of Representatives, Peters believes the act will facilitate solving this shortage.
'Peters said more legislation needs to address the growing skilled trades need in Michigan. He said he believes programs like the Saginaw ISD's partnership with the UA Local 85 help, but more needs to be done at the state and federal levels.'
'U.S. Senator Gary Peters in west Michigan this morning. The Democratic lawmaker toured UA Local 174 in Coopersville today. It is a teaching facility for apprentices getting ready for a skilled trade. Senator Peters sponsored legislation back in December that passed unanimously to create more apprenticeships for veterans. Peters says the bill will increase the number of apprenticeships for vets from 200 up to 1 thousand.
''In my mind, a veteran should be able to pick from all of the registered programs. Whatever path they want to take, they should be able to take that path…It's going to lead to a lot more opportunities for them in skilled trade, not everybody wants to go to a four year college program. They want to be in skilled trades, but it can be a difficult process when you've been in the military for years and you have a family.''
'Peters toured Local Chapter 174 of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada (UA) in Coopersville…He spoke with apprentices and union members during the visit, walking through the facility's welding and classroom sections.
''We have to support great training, very focused on career training, whether it's a skilled trade through the union or skilled trades that you will find in machine shops and other manufacturing facilities,' he said. '…They have jobs that are available right now that they can hire folks, but they need folks that have skills that they can transfer into the shop. Right now we don't do a good job of providing those opportunities.'
'Peters added that the bill would give veterans pathways to more opportunities outside of the traditional, four-year degree programs.'
''We're working on legislation so that veterans can use their GI bill in registered apprenticeship programs'
'A new bill -- passed unanimously by the Senate-- would require veterans to be included in the Department of Labor standards for registered apprenticeship programs. That means -- being allowed to participate in all one-thousand programs offered by the state.
''As veterans transition into civilian life it's a scary thing. This is a way to smooth that transition.''