Washtenaw Community College welcomed Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer at the United Association’s Industry Day on Wednesday.
The governor joined UA’s General President Mark McManus, other UA leaders and WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca on Towsley Auditorium stage inside the Morris Lawrence Building to address a standing-room-only audience.
“We love having the UA instructor training program here in Michigan and truly appreciate the resources that you invest here in Washtenaw County," Whitmer told the group of UA members and other industry leaders. "Your programs truly set a high benchmark for the entire industry. Everyday across Michigan we still see that good quality and craftsmanship from our plumbers, pipefitters, HVAC techs, sprinkler fitters and welders.”
Industry Day is one of the highlights of the annual UA Instructor Training Program week, which is in its 33rd year being hosted on the WCC campus.
“By ensuring the highest level of achievement in essential trades, the UA is building a workforce that we need desperately to grow our economy and empower Michiganders with the skills they need to earn a good living, to raise a family, to live the American dream right here in Michigan,” Whitmer said.
Safety is a hallmark of UA, renowned for its Instructor Training Program in which trainees commit to five years of specialized coursework and hands-on training and then go back to teach other members at their home bases.
“Nothing is more important than this week," because nothing is more important than training, McManus said. “You’re not only teaching them a skill set for life, you are mentoring them as well.”
McManus welcomed UA’s first ever class of 120 future instructor trainees, whom he called the best and the brightest. "This is literally our future.”
He said it’s a wonderful time to be in the UA because “we’re professional, we’re growing, we’re expanding. The work load is historic that’s in front of us. We have a renaissance of manufacturing coming back. … Be proud, walk proud that you’re UA-skilled craftsmen.”
The UA operates on the WCC campus year-round, conducting various training courses throughout the year in its Great Lakes Regional Training Center, which was recently expanded by 8,800 square feet.
“This is your home and we have so much respect for your trade and so much respect for how you value training and safety,” WCC President Bellanca said. “You stand for excellence, and we do, too.”
After the presentation, hundreds of industry guests were invited to walk around campus to observe hands-on training and demonstrations as well as the International Apprenticeship Competition.
On Thursday, the largest ever completion ceremony will be held at Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center in which 154 UA members will be awarded hard-earned ITP certificates. Forty UA members will also receive an associate degrees from WCC.