Michigan puts renewed emphasis on blue-collar jobs, retreats from plan to build new workforce

Only a few short years ago, Michigan leaders talked excitedly about building a Silicon Valley-style workforce that would be less dependent on manufacturing and more invested in technology and green energy.

It's the same dream shared by virtually every other governor whose state once relied on factory jobs. But now Michigan is going back to its roots and putting renewed emphasis on training welders, machinists, electricians and other blue-collar workers.

Gov. Rick Snyder says the pendulum has swung too far toward encouraging students to get a four-year degree when they should also consider an apprenticeship or a community college program.

The state economy is picking up, and car production is booming. But Michigan's skilled tradesmen are getting older, and there aren't enough qualified people to replace them.