At the same time industry leaders in Michigan are decrying a lack of available employment base with skilled trades expertise, they seem to agree that privately-paid apprenticeship opportunities are among the best ways to change it.

Apprenticeships - a combined opportunity to earn money while learning both on the job and in a structured learning environment - are privately funded, allowing graduates nationally recognized credentials with no debt after schooling is done.

Lansing-based Public Sector Consultants studied apprenticeships over a 15-year period, recently releasing the results of "The Benefits of Michigan Apprenticeship Programs," indicating an estimated "37 percent of job growth in Michigan over the next five years is expected to be in the middle skills occupations," the report said.

In the video above, Tom Longman, director of Kellogg Community College's Regional Manufacturing and Technology Center encourages folks to considered skilled trades training, which, he says, is not structured like a traditional college curriculum track. Someone expressing interest in RMTC programs can begin almost immediately and finish relatively quickly.

In the video below, John Banks, president of Battle Creek-based Motor Shop Electrical Construction Co., concurs with the Public Sector Consultants report that apprenticeships are key, discussing his company's approach. Joining him by phone to discuss the report, former MIchigan lawmaker and PSC senior policy fellow Ken Sikkema.