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Home Columns, Opinions & Misc. Northeast Michigan Trades Education Coalition seeks local support

Northeast Michigan Trades Education Coalition seeks local support

To the editor:

For over a half-century, Kirtland Community College has served our communities from its Roscommon main campus with support from the taxpayers. When built, this location was at the geographic center of the college’s original four-county taxing district.

In the November 2014 election, voters approved Kirtland’s bonding proposal to fund “…constructing, remodeling, furnishing and refurnishing, equipping and reequipping building additions and facilities at the college’s Roscommon campus…” Kirtland’s 2018 decision to instead close and relocate its Roscommon main campus to new facilities that it is building near Grayling contradicts Kirtland’s own published “2013-2019 Strategic & Action Plan,” which assured voters: “There are no plans to discontinue education o?erings at the Roscommon location, but Kirtland must use it wisely and refurbish it for new uses.”

Only one-third of the high school students in northern Michigan will continue their education at a four-year university or a community college.

Of those, approximately twenty percent will drop out without a college degree or certi?cate, and instead, they will join the other two-thirds who are searching for job opportunities.

However, many northern Michigan employers need employees with speci?c trade skills. So, individual employers have been forced to develop and implement their own “on-the-job” training programs to meet their workforce requirements in jobs such as government public works, timbering, construction and road work.

In recent months, volunteers representing various organizations and businesses have met with local school o?cials, regional and state elected o?cials and sta?, business leaders, labor union representatives, and private individuals, and have formed a Coalition to address the documented yet unmet trades education and job training needs in our region. The new Coalition believes that Kirtland’s Roscommon campus should not be closed. Instead, it o?ers a rare and unique opportunity with its convenient-but-rural location, to create a new regional Trades Academy that can provide job training and career direction for area students who seek skilled trades careers.

Prospective employers have shown a desire to invest time, resources and apprenticeship commitments to ensure the Academy’s success. The announced future shuttering of Kirtland’s Roscommon campus is of grave concern because the longer it sits empty and unused, the more it will cost to sell or repurpose. The Coalition is seeking assistance and letters of support from organizations and individuals to help develop our vision for a Northeast Michigan Trades Academy at Kirtland’s Roscommon Campus, and to bring it to reality.

For more information, to provide assistance or express support, contact:

Northeast Michigan Trades Education Coalition, P.O. Box 535, Roscommon, Michigan 48653

Tim O’Rourke
John Rosczyk
Elizabeth Gorske
Cheryl O’Rourke
Edward Bergeron
Robert Schneider
Mark Constance

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