Michigan companies searching for skilled workers

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While some people are struggling to find jobs, companies in Michigan are struggling to find workers.

Companies in the manufacturing industry are expanding and seeking employees with specialized skills. The focus in recent years has been to push high school students toward a four year institution after graduation. But, that means the younger workforce has less exposure to manufacturing.

Lt. Governor Brian Calley spent Tuesday morning in Benton Harbor, Mich. He sat down with area leaders to discuss the skills gap and strategies for job growth in Southwest Michigan.

Calley toured Maximum Mold, a Berrien County company that has grown from operating out of a small log cabin to a much larger facility.

“Over the last four years we've been changing,” said owner Dave Lagrow. “You have to have good customers, good machines and good people.”

Back in 2009, the company’s future seemed bleak.

“We had the recession that put us back 46 percent in sales.” Lagrow said. “We dropped down to shut-down for two weeks.”

Instead of closing up shop, Lagrow decided to reinvest. Now, the company has grown from just two employees to 24.

Calley said Maximum Mold exemplifies the potential for entrepreneurs in the state.

“Michigan needs to be competitive when it comes to the environment we ask our entrepreneurs to operate in,” Calley said.

Calley points out that a small company like Maximum Mold can create new jobs around Berrien County.

“The labor force needs to be there so companies can find labor they need to fill jobs,” Calley said.

The Wolverine State faces a labor shortage – due to job hopefuls lacking the necessary skills.

“There are over 70,000 jobs available in Michigan that are critically important and high-paying,” Calley said. “Employers are having trouble finding people with right skills to fill them.”

State senator John Proos said exposing teens to manufacturing in high school could help them get the training they need to succeed in the industry.

“This not our grandfather’s manufacturing,” Proos said. “It’s high-tech, clean and invaluable to Michigan’s economy.”