Michigan Advanced Technician Training Program (MAT²) is an apprenticeship program that addresses two major issues facing the manufacturing and technology industries: a widening skills gap and an aging workforce. MAT² combines classroom instruction and practical work experience to train a skilled workforce to meet industry needs.

The MAT² Apprenticeship Program is a win-win for both employers and apprentices. Manufacturers and companies have access to a pipeline of qualified talent, while apprentices gain hands-on experience, a living wage, a debt-free associate degree, and national and international credentials.

Joy VanDeKerkhove, whose daughter Hannah is a recent graduate of MAT², said the program opened valuable educational and professional opportunities for her child. They first heard about MAT² when Hannah attended a FIRST Robotics Competition as a high school student at Oakland Schools Technical Campuses (OSTC). Hannah went on to complete an apprenticeship with Dürr, a mechanical and plant engineering firm, and Joy said she was impressed by how the companies involved in the program invest in their apprentices.

“They understand the importance of investing in these students,” said Joy. “Our daughter was exposed to all areas of Dürr: business, sales, engineering, and manufacturing. We are forever grateful for this opportunity. The wealth in knowledge and experience our daughter has gained has been priceless!”

MAT² provided Hannah with important advantages, Joy emphasized, including the chance to build in-demand skills and earn her associate degree without taking on student loans.

“There are several benefits of MAT²,” she said. “The number one is having a paid education and no student loan debt. The on-the-job experience is a close second. She received real-world training in various aspects in the business that is not taught in the classroom. And finally, the traveling experience, both domestic and internationally, is an education in itself.”

Because Hannah entered with workforce with no student loan debt, she is now well-equipped to pursue her professional and financial goals.

“Starting work with no financial debt is huge,” said Joy. “This is an enabler for 401k investments at an early age. Also considering the purchase of a house or additional schooling with a great income is on the horizon for our daughter.”

Learn more about the benefits of the MAT² Apprenticeship Program.