Grand Haven Tribune: Sen. Peters visits West Michigan training centers

COOPERSVILLE — U.S. Sen. Gary Peters gained firsthand insight into the apprenticeship and training efforts happening in West Michigan on Tuesday during tours of a Coopersville-based union and a technical learning center in Muskegon.

During his visit to the West Michigan Plumbers, Fitters and Services Trades Local Union No. 174 in Coopersville, the Michigan Democrat spoke about efforts to expand opportunities for veterans to use the GI Bill for apprenticeship opportunities.

In December 2019, the Senate passed Peters’ legislation to expand opportunities for veterans. Peters said his focus is currently to make sure that when veterans end their active-duty service and transition into civilian life, they have a clear and varied path.

While the GI Bill currently allows veterans to enroll in registered apprentice programs, Peters said the Department of Veterans Affairs only recognizes 200 of the 1,100 registered programs. Peters said his legislation would expand it for all apprenticeships.

“In my mind, veterans should be able to pick from all of the registered programs,” he said. “Whatever path they want to take, they should be able to take that path.”

Additionally, the legislation calls for veterans’ relevant training in the military to count as credit toward an apprenticeship program.

As Peters toured the local, he also met with individuals learning skills at the training facility.

Ryan Bennett, business manager for the No. 174, said they were proud to host Peters on Tuesday. As a labor union, the No. 174 has been in West Michigan for 120 years, and Bennett said they advocate for working people.

Also on Tuesday, Peters met the machining, automotive and graphic production students while touring the Career Tech Center in Muskegon. Leaders from the health and manufacturing industries, colleges, and Muskegon Area Intermediate School District met with Peters prior to his tour.

MAISD Superintendent John Severson discussed the success of the Muskegon Area Promise and touched on a new teacher preparation Early College program. He also mentioned an investment by the Community Foundation for Muskegon County that provides a $50 savings account to every kindergarten student.

By:  Krystle Wagner
Source: Grand Haven Tribune