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Workforce Wednesday: Rowan Richard taps Michigan Reconnect to gain career skills

Oct. 27, 2021, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- GRCC Workforce Training programs provide in-demand skills leading to rewarding careers. Each Wednesday we’ll meet students who are heading down an educational pathway and changing their lives by earning occupational certificates.

Rowan Richards was an appliance technician for a local appliance repair company. After five years of learning all she could from the other technicians, Richard was ready to take her skills to the next level.  

“I am very puzzle oriented,” she said. “In my work fixing appliances, I have always enjoyed working on the electrical components inside of the machines. Figuring out the circuits and how they work intrigues me.”

Richard took her time and researched area electrical programs. She looked at both online and in-person options and found that the GRCC Job Training Electrical Construction program truly stood out.

“I had been looking at doing this for a few years and at GRCC specifically for a few months. But what really made it happen was when I found out about Michigan Reconnect."

Michigan Reconnect is a state financial aid program for Michiganders 25 or older without a college degree. This program provides eligible students with tuition-free access to pursue an associate degree or occupational certificate at their local community college.

“This program is beyond the best one that I found. The fact that it is in-person and not online was a part of my decision. But the hands-on portion makes a huge difference in your confidence when entering this field. It got even more attractive when I got the Michigan Reconnect and it was fully covered.”

The GRCC Construction Electrical Job Training program provides the basic knowledge and skills required to become an electrician and be placed in an Electrical Apprenticeship program in just 18 weeks of training.

Students participate in job site, lab area, field trip and classroom settings. Learning is hands-on in all areas of electrical installation including employability skills, construction and electrical safety, hand and power tool safety, electrical math, electrical history, electrical theory, the National Electrical Code, electrical material identification, blueprint reading, underground installations and residential/commercial wiring.

Once graduates of this program are hired,they may register as an Apprentice Electrician, and request to have their Certificate applied to their first year of the state required four years of training.

Richard will complete the program just before Thanksgiving. She has been working with GRCC Job Developer Pam Harris to find the right career opportunity.

“There are so many companies hiring right now. I want to make sure that the company I work for is a good fit for me,” she said. “I have specific interests so I want to make sure those line up with the type of work I will be doing.”

Rowan is interested in becoming a journeyman electrician. She is open to all business sectors but is particularly interested in the industrial field.

According to the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, there will be 16% job growth annually in this field from 2012 to 2022. Average wage per hour is $23.78.

Anyone interested in gaining career skills through GRCC Workforce Training can connect via email at, and by phone at (616) 234-3800.


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