Retirees Teach Skilled Trades in their Second Careers


(from left) Oakland Schools Technical Campus teachers Steve Rose, Dan Schloegl, Steve Potts 

Last week, three Oakland Schools Technical Campus teachers were featured in General Motors’ GM Retiree Update. Read more about how these men have used their real-world careers to inspire today’s youth.

There’s a significant shortage of skilled tradespeople in Michigan to work in emerging industries like advanced manufacturing, but four GM retirees are helping tackle that problem in their second careers.

GM retirees Steve Rose, Dan Schloegl, Steve Potts, and Barry Bailey connected with each other via word of mouth over the past three years and today, they’re helping high school juniors and seniors embark upon careers in emerging technologies.

Steve Rose, a mold maker who retired in 2006 from the Delphi plant in Flint, always knew he wanted to be a teacher. Thanks to the GM tuition assistance program, he went back to school at night to get his teaching degree and after retiring on a Wednesday, started student teaching the following day.

Now Rose teaches machining at Oakland Schools Technical Campus-Southwest (OSTC-SW) in Wixom, MI. While seeing Schloegl at a local gym, he convinced him to come to work as his machining assistant. Schloegl also worked at the Delphi plant, retiring in 2007.

When Schloegl heard about a need for a welding teacher at OSTC, he reached out to his golf league buddy Steve Potts, who retired in 2013 from the Grand Blanc Weld Tool Center. Potts is now teaching welding there and working towards his teaching degree.

Bailey, who retired as a toolmaker from the Delphi plant in 2007, was working at the OSTC Northwest campus in Clarkston, MI, as a security guard when he learned of its opening for a machining instructor. He’s now teaching there and working towards his teaching degree.

“All four of us are helping today’s youth begin to fill the badly needed skilled trades positions at GM and other companies,” Rose said.

At OSTC, the two-year Engineering and Emerging Technologies programs in welding, machining and mechatronics prepare junior and senior high school students to earn nationally recognized certificates in skilled trades. In addition to classroom work, students get the opportunity to work for an employer four days each week to earn a salary and school credit.

“It used to be just the seniors who worked, but now there’s such a demand, we’ll start the juniors who are ready. The students learn a trade and earn $13 to $14 per hour,” Rose said.

He notes the manufacturing facilities today are not the facilities of the past. They offer innovative careers using CNC machining, 3-D models, computer simulations, software development and more.

Many employers will pay the students’ tuition for an associates degree if they stay on after getting their certificates from OSTC. Rose said other students go on to four-year colleges like Kettering, Wayne State or Lawrence Technological University and become engineers.

Rose admits it is challenging to teach students ranging in age between 16 and 18.

“These kids are all hands-on learners. They can only sit still for a 20-minute lecture, tops. They are very tech savvy when it comes to computers and social media.”

Rose added that typically “girls do very well in both machining and welding because they tend to be perfectionists and pay attention to detail.”

According to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the sizeable professional trades shortage in Michigan is expected to continue through 2024. Professional trades will account for more than 500,000 jobs in the Michigan economy, and approximately 15,000 new job openings are expected annually in the state during that time.

Four GM retirees are doing their part to prepare young people to fill those job openings.

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