Mid Michigan Community College is starting an associate degree program in thermoforming plastics technology — the latest two-year plastics program designed to teach job skills.
The National Science Foundation has awarded a $717,000 grant over three years to fund the program at MMCC's campus in Harrison, Mich., northwest of Midland.
“We're looking primarily to serve the local employment needs here, which are crying for people,” said Scott Govitz, MMCC executive director of workforce and economic development.
Students can begin taking some of the classes this fall. The NSF grant will help the college buy equipment, Govitz said.
“We're advertising for a grant coordinator right now,” he said in mid-July.
The associate's degree will be transferrable to Ferris State University's four-year bachelor's degree in plastics engineering technology. Govitz called it a “laddered approach.” Ferris State is in Big Rapids, Mich., about an hour away from MMCC.
Govitz said part of Michigan has several thermoforming companies, and they need employees with skills.
MMCC students can get shorter certificate programs.
The college also is going to create programs to teach skills in welding and computer numerical controlled machining.
A Mid-Michigan Plastics Industry Alliance is forming to serve as an advisory board.
Govitz said community colleges can play a key role in helping industry compete. MMCC officials say Michigan has more than 2,000 skilled-trade job openings, the most of any state.
“It's a national issue and there's this huge mismatch that's occurring out in the world between people who are job-skill ready. And it's at every level,” he said.