LANSING (AP) — Gov. Jennifer Granholm, disturbed by Michigan’s high unemployment rate, said yesterday she wants the state’s job training programs to be faster and more effective.

Chelsea Trull
Gov. Jennifer Granholm speaks in her State of the State address in Lansing last month.
(Shubra Ohri/Daily)

She wants a worker training program to match up to 30,000 workers with jobs in growing areas such as health care by the end of the year. The matches would come through the Michigan Works program, a public-private partnership with offices statewide.

To count toward Granholm’s goal, the retrained workers would have to keep their new jobs long enough to document that the match has been lasting. The timeframe has not been specified but could be about a year, officials said.

Granholm also wants more employers to use Michigan Works as a tool to find workers. She wants the partnership to contact 35,000 employers to identify job openings.

“We need a seamless system of work force development,” Granholm said at the first meeting of the Michigan Council for Labor and Economic Growth. “We have the capacity here to get people back to work.”

The plan is part of the MI Opportunity Partnership that Granholm talked about in her State of the State address last month.

Granholm said the partnership would seek to match up to 40,000 workers with high-demand jobs in 2006. The matches, in large part, could come in addition to workers already placed by Michigan Works — more than 59,000 last year — in a variety of jobs, many of them relatively low wage.

The retrained workers would take some of the estimated 90,000 job vacancies that already exist in Michigan, Granholm said. Many of those jobs have higher wages and are in high-demand fields such as health care, skilled trades and high-tech.

Michigan has struggled to match the unemployed with jobs that will be in the most demand, Granholm said. The 75 council members — including representatives from government, education and private industry — were asked yesterday to put aside differences and work together to get the job done.

“So much can be done here in Michigan,” said Sharon Wenzl, a Tower Automotive vice president and chairwoman of the economic growth council. “When we put our focus on an area, a lot can happen.”

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