New network expands worker education for boat-building industry

What's happening: In a first-of-its-kind move, the Great Lakes Boat Building School in Cedarville is asking the industry for feedback about the curriculum it should teach. The move comes with the hope of better preparing a workforce in Michigan and around the Midwest. The school recently joined with its first professional partner, the Irish Boat Shop of Harbor Springs, to establish the Marine Dealers Education Network (MEDN).

What is MDEN:  Created by the Great Lakes Boat Building School, the MEDN was designed to give marine dealers the chance to positively influence the education provided by the school. Going directly to the people hiring graduates would allow the school to hear and immediately start teaching relevant changes in the industry. The network would also strengthen the alumni communication with the school, which is not as common at trade schools compared to more traditional four-year degree universities. 

What they're saying: “We are extremely excited to partner in this unique way with Irish Boat Shop, such a respected and well-known Northern Michigan boat dealer,” said Nikki Storey, president of the Great Lakes Boat Building School. “This is a classic win-win scenario as we seek to continue placing our students in rewarding careers and Irish Boat Shop offers our graduates outstanding opportunities for growth and development in their organization.”

What's next: Irish Boat Shop is just the first of many private boat makers that will look to tap into the MDEN in an effort to grow the workforce for the industry.

“Our biggest challenge as a marine dealer is finding qualified, well-trained and career-ready employees,” said Michael Esposito, president of Irish Boat Shop. “We have been involved with Great Lakes Boat Building School and hired graduates that are developing careers with us now. Joining this network and sponsoring a future student was a natural next step for us to attract more talented people and enhance our relationship with the school.”