Huge Incentives with Local Job Opportunities


Ben Cole

Ben Cole, a recent graduate of Kingsford High School and Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District (DIISD), wasn’t sure what to pursue as a high school senior. The realization that, “I can do anything” can easily and quickly turn into, “how will I ever be able to decide?”

Fortunately, Rebecca Frates, DIISD Graphic Design Instructor and Susan Sturm, DIISD Mechatronics Instructor, shared a Field Service Technician Development Apprenticeship through Lake Shore Systems with Ben. An accepted apprentice through Lake Shore’s program covers the cost for a Mechatronics’ Certificate, and includes a competitive wage and a full benefits package. After the apprenticeship, Cole has the opportunity to travel around the world with the potential to make up to $90K a year.

“I had no idea that an opportunity like this existed five minutes from my house! In school, the focus is on going to a four year college after high school. I would get asked “What college are you are going to?” instead of “What are you doing after high school?” It is the assumed pathway,” Ben shared.

Area employers expect to add 650 new jobs over the next three to five years, while Dickinson County’s unemployment rate rests at 3.8% which is seventeenth lowest out of 83 Michigan counties. Plus, in 2017, Dickinson County had 2,629 manufacturing jobs equal to 20% of the workforce compared to the State average is 13-14%, per the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“I struggled greatly with trying to decide which four-year college degree to take, and I couldn’t reach a decision by the end of high school,” said Ben. He was very impressed with Lake Shore’s values. The company has been designing and building robust, heavy equipment for the maritime and mining industries in the USA for 160 years. Their mission is to provide safe, reliable, innovative equipment and solutions to their global maritime and mining customers.

“They made sure that not only I, but also my parents understood that I would be given the time, resources and education needed before going into the field.” Ben will begin classes at Bay College – West Campus this fall.

Employer’s value students who have on-the-job work experience under their belt as it demonstrates work ethic and the development of skills outside of academics. The job market in Dickinson County lends itself to the ability for students to earn while they learn while attending Bay College. These collaborations allow for hands-on, experiential education in students’ fields of interest before graduation providing a huge advantage to local students, in addition to the significant cost savings of attending Bay College.