Whitmer lines up federal funds to train 5,000 Michigan infrastructure workers

By Kyle Kaminski

May 2, 2024

A new directive signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer calls for spending federal funds on a new workforce development program—and putting more Michiganders to work.

MICHIGAN—Under an executive order signed this week by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, state officials are set to help connect thousands of infrastructure workers with industry-recognized certificates, credentials, or on-the-job training—all to help ensure Michigan has the workforce necessary to support continued road and bridge repairs, as well as other infrastructure projects.

Whitmer on Monday announced Executive Directive 2024-1, which she said will ensure at least 5,000 new infrastructure workers receive training—and are placed in “good-paying” careers—by Jan. 1, 2030. And to help fund the new effort, she’s passing the bill to the federal government.

“Thanks to our partners in the Biden-Harris administration, we have already received more than $10 billion to build up our infrastructure and there are billions more headed our way,” Whitmer said in a statement announcing the executive directive. “Let’s harness this extraordinary opportunity by creating good-paying, high-skill job opportunities for Michiganders.”

Here’s the deal:

In 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—marking a key piece of his economic agenda and the most significant investment in America’s infrastructure in generations. Since it was signed into law, more than $400 billion has been funneled into over 40,000 specific infrastructure projects across over 4,500 communities in all 50 states.

This funding has upgraded highways, invested in transit systems, improved water systems, funded lead pipe replacement, expanded access to high-speed internet, and more. New projects are still breaking ground, and the investments have fueled a construction and manufacturing boom that’s contributed to millions of new jobs created over the past two years.

What’s in Whitmer’s new directive?

Whitmer’s order calls for the state Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to establish a “statewide strategy” to ensure Michigan’s workers are prepared for new projects in the state.

More specifically, it calls for state officials to facilitate the training of at least 5,000 infrastructure workers by Jan. 1, 2030—ensuring each worker receives training from an “industry-recognized” educational entity, which could include apprenticeships through the US Department of Labor.

To fund the initiative, the order calls for a portion (up to 5%) of the total federal funding received for each infrastructure project to be specifically earmarked for workforce development efforts.

Whitmer’s directive also calls for the new plan to acknowledge—and account for—the “historic racial and gender inequities in access to infrastructure career and educational opportunities.”

“This directive will prioritize barrier removal and ensure equal access to infrastructure career and education opportunities so Michigan can build the diverse, inclusive workforce of the future,” said Susan Corbin, director of the state Department Labor and Economic Opportunity.

The directive also aligns neatly with a statewide workforce plan Whitmer released last month, which offers a comprehensive roadmap of strategies to support both workers and employers.

Steve Claywell, president of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, said the directive will also help thousands of Michiganders get the skills they need to land union jobs.

“Whitmer and our friends in the Biden-Harris administration have made building infrastructure a priority,” Claywell said in a statement. “Michigan is full speed ahead on infrastructure, and the men and women of the building and construction trades stand ready to get the job done.”

READ MORE: Clean energy investments turn Michigan into ‘manufacturing powerhouse’

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Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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