Expansion of successful jobs training program approved by Senate committee

LANSING—A Senate committee passed legislation Wednesday that would expand the Michigan New Jobs Training Program (MNJTP), a successful statewide initiative established in 2008 to promote job growth and provide skilled training to workers through local community colleges.

“The Michigan New Jobs Training Program has been very successful in promoting opportunities and connecting businesses and community colleges to meet the need for specific skilled training,” said Sen. Mark C. Jansen, R-Grand Rapids, sponsor of Senate Bill 1074. “I am grateful for Senator Phil Pavlov’s strong support of SB 1074, which will allow the program to expand on the more than 6,800 new jobs created since 2009.”

Pavlov chairs the Senate Education Committee, which approved Jansen’s measure. Pavlov said putting people back to work in Michigan has been his top priority since arriving in the Senate.

“The Michigan New Jobs Training Program is helping create jobs and improve the lives of thousands of people across the state,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “The program is driven by local communities for the benefit of local workers. Senator Jansen’s bill will remove some of the program’s arbitrary restrictions and maximize its job-creation potential.”

The MNJTP lets community colleges statewide create a training pool through flexible financing mechanisms to support employers who are creating jobs or expanding operations in Michigan. SB 1074 would remove certain technical restrictions to allow the program to expand.

The program generated more than $76 million in additional earnings and 2,266 new jobs in 2012 alone, according to a report issued last year by the Anderson Economic Group (AEG), an independent economic research and consulting firm based in East Lansing. Going forward, the AEG study projects the MNJTP annually to generate $143 million in additional earnings and more than 4,700 jobs.

Under the program, training for newly hired workers is paid by capturing the state income tax associated with the new employees’ wages and redirecting it to a local college, instead of to the state. These new jobs must pay at least 175 percent of the state minimum wage (or $14.26 per hour).

Last week, St. Clair County Community College President Dr. Kevin Pollock and Magna International Inc. CEO Frank Ervin testified before the committee on how successful the MNJTP has been. Northwestern Michigan College and General Motors Co. also indicated their support.

On Wednesday, Sai Tatineni, managing director of SMR Automotive’s Marysville facility, spoke to the panel.

“We at SMR are grateful for this program,” Tatineni said. “It targets exactly the right training at the right time and in the right place—moving the company in the right direction.”

The committee also heard from WABCO North America, a tier-one automotive supplier in Rochester Hills that partners with Oakland County Community College, and Johnson Controls of Holland, which holds an MNJTP contract with Grand Rapids Community College.

SB 1074 has been sent to the full Senate for further consideration.