Students share ideas, experiences as they start their career track
Congresswoman Haley Stevens, who represents Michigan’s 11th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, hosted a student roundtable with fellows in her office’s Summer Leadership Development program and other students on Friday, July 16, in the VisTaTech Center on the campus of Schoolcraft College.
Rep. Stevens was joined by Rep. Darren Soto, of Florida, who is the Chair of the House Future Forum Caucus; Rep. Stevens serves as Vice-Chair and has been a member since 2019.
Established in 2015, Future Forum is a generational caucus that includes 50 young Members of Congress who focus on issues important to younger Americans. Their work is guided by three core principles:
- Bridging the divide between young Americans and their government.
- Engaging with and empowering young voters.
- Inspiring the next generation of leaders in public service.
Michigan’s 11th Congressional District contains portions of Wayne and Oakland Counties. Major cities in the district include several that are part of Schoolcraft College’s district – Canton Township, Livonia, Northville and Plymouth. So having Schoolcraft as the site of the forum was a natural one to listen to the voices of younger people.
“20 percent of our district is under the age of 18 years old,” Rep. Stevens noted. “What’s going on is a real demand for talent. We’ve had a lot of people leave the labor force.
“(Schoolcraft College) is a destination in Michigan’s 11th District. This is a destination in Michigan in general for training and educating our workforce and plugging into jobs and opportunities.
“The other thing is not just the demand for your talent, but with your skill. How do we connect you with a skill that can never be taken from you?”
Developing a skill, or more to the point, a trade through an apprenticeship, is something that Logan Leinbach did while at Schoolcraft College. Leinbach, who spoke at the forum, is the first Woodwork Manufacturing Specialist apprentice.
This position combines skills from computer numerical control (CNC), computer-aided design (CAD) and bench carpentry. It rose out of a need at Leinbach’s employer, Burke Architectural Millwork in Livonia.
“I sat down with my boss, looked at the apprenticeships, which were very specific, and we took bits and pieces and combined them to create an apprenticeship that’s more broad,” Leinbach said. “I’m also learning project management and some of the higher aspects functions of the company so I’m better set to move up in the company or start my own company because I have knowledge of multiple areas.”
Leinbach was joined by fellow Schoolcraft College student Volkan Salmani, who is majoring in CAD and also works as a manufacturing tech lab assistant at the Manufacturing & Engineering Center.
“I definitely enjoyed the program. It’s really awesome to hear from the other young people about their ideas. It was really great,” he said.
Pamela Linton, Apprenticeship Coordinator for Occupational Programs, and Karen Maxton, Employment and Internship Coordinator for Occupational Programs, attended the forum and know first-hand the struggles employers are having to find skilled workers. They work each day to help connect students to opportunities in business and industry.
“Hearing these young people share their experiences about the challenges students face in learning about a range of post-secondary education and career options was both affirming and motivating,” Linton said. “Affirming in that we are definitely on the right track here at the College in our strong outreach efforts and relationship-building with area middle and high schools. And motivating in that we need to keep working hard to get the word out to students about the many outstanding opportunities available to them, especially at Schoolcraft.”
Maxton echoed Linton’s sentiments and was glad to hear that students are open to exploring a variety of options.
“I truly enjoyed watching Congresswoman Stevens interact with so many young people at her recent Future Forum event at Schoolcraft College,” she said. “Many of the students focused on the need for greater career exploration in high school, particularly in the area of apprenticeships and internships, which we were thrilled to hear.
“We couldn’t agree more that students need to truly understand all of the different career pathways available to them. There are so many in-demand, well-paying careers out there, particularly in the professional trades area, and we appreciate Congresswoman Stevens’ interest in highlighting those opportunities.
Dr. Michele Kelly, Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, also was an attendee. She was impressed by how engaged the students were.
“Personally, I was inspired by how much our young people were paying attention and how eloquently they were able to articulate exactly what they need from our government representatives,” she said. “Even though some of the attendees were under voting age, it was clear that when it is time their voices will be loud and clear. It gave me a lot of hope for our future and confidence that Schoolcraft is particularly well-poised to be an integral part of such a bright future.”