Governor Gretchen Whitmer has visited Dearborn’s Henry Ford College as a part of her “Home for Opportunity”, an ongoing effort to close the skilled trades gap in Michigan.
During the visit, on March 14, Whitmer toured HFC’s School of Health and Human Services (HHS) Surgical Technology lab and HFC’s automotive technology ASSET lab.
The governor witnessed students completing hands-on work to demonstrate how HFC programs prepare graduates to meet Michigan’s needs in various skilled trades fields. Afterwards, she spoke to HFC students about their career goals.
“We have a skills gap here in Michigan and these programs are incredibly important to strengthening the economy and we all benefit when we do that,” said Whitmer.
Whitmer has been visiting community colleges throughout the state since she proposed the Michigan Opportunity Scholarship to provide tuition-free community college education to Michigan residents at her State of the State Address in February.
There is a strong correlation between household income and education levels. Highly educated states boast some of the highest per-capita incomes in the country. Michigan currently ranks 36th for post-secondary educational attainment (the number of residents with a high-quality industrial certificate, associate degree or higher) and 34th for household income.”
The Michigan Opportunity Scholarship would address the state’s higher education shortfall by enabling more Michigan adults to complete a post-secondary degree. The scholarship will play a key role in helping Michigan reach the governor’s post-secondary attainment goal of 60 percent by 2030.
The governor stressed the need for higher education, saying that the state once boasted the “best skilled workforce” when it invested more in colleges and universities.
“That’s something that is our important to our economic future and I want to keep working toward that,” said Whitmer. “I’m working my tail off to make sure (the legislature passes) a budget that actually fixes the roads, closes the skills trades gap, cleans up drinking water, and makes sure that our children in our P-12 schools are in the top 10 in our country again.”
HFC has partnerships with the Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan (TED), DTE Energy, Michigan Works!, several automotive companies, and many others.
HFC has also partnered with area high schools to provide Career and Technical Education programs. In addition, HFC has transfer agreements with the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Eastern Michigan University, Madonna University, Siena Heights University, and the University of Michigan-Dearborn, among others.
HFC President Russell Kavalhuna said the governor was pleased with the college’s facilities and students.
“It was an honor to have Governor Whitmer visit Henry Ford College. She got to see firsthand some of the ways in which HFC is a gateway to top-quality higher education and rewarding careers, whether our graduates go directly into the workforce or transfer to a four-year educational institution,” Kavalhuna said.
“She told me that she was impressed with our state-of-the-art facilities and, more importantly, the work our students are doing at the College. That makes me very proud.”
Other community leaders joined Whitmer on her tour of HFC included members of the HFC Board of Trustees, Dearborn Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Glenn Maleyko, Henry Ford III, and others.
“Governor Whitmer’s goals and our goals here at the College are very similar in closing the skilled trades gap,” said Kavalhuna. “Henry Ford College serves a niche in this community and this city, the birthplace of Ford Motor Co. and the automotive industry. In fact, Wayne County is one of the top 40 counties in the United States with the largest increase in manufacturing employment, and we are proud to play a role in that.”