In an era of increased political divisiveness where terms like left and right and Democrat and Republican stir up deep emotions, Senator Mike Shirkey is exactly the type of public servant we should all hope to have representing us. The epitome of what a legislative champion should be, Senator Shirkey works in service to Michigan without resorting to mudslinging or stooping to insult or attack. He is able to elevate conversations about emotional and difficult issues and focus on the legislative solutions to best serve his constituents, the state and its manufacturing community.
Through a career spent in and around the industry, Senator Shirkey is well aware of manufacturing’s history as a driving force for the state economy.
“We receive many forms of recognition as legislators, but this award is significant for me because it comes from my peers: my fellow engineers and manufacturers,” said Senator Shirkey. “I identify as an engineer and I use my skills as an engineer to solve problems and tackle major issues.”
With so many of his colleagues coming from non-manufacturing backgrounds, Senator Shirkey has always effectively spoken on manufacturing’s important role in a better, brighter Michigan. He understands the challenges facing manufacturers because he comes from it and has led the charge on critical competitiveness issues including the elimination of Michigan’s Health Insurance Claims Assessment (HICA) tax and the industry’s pervasive challenge of career readiness and talent recruitment, training and retention.
Through his leadership, manufacturing has seen conversations surrounding skilled trades training, competitiveness and awareness of available careers take center stage at the Capitol.
“We now recognize that preparing students for a career path and the education and training necessary to accomplish their career goals is more important than a ‘one size fits all’ approach to education,” Senator Shirkey explained. “We have made strides to support diverse education paths through adjustments in curriculum expectations, more funding for technical training, more robust support for school choice and more flexibility for schools to offer challenging course work.”
Just as important as his own willingness to highlight manufacturing is the Senator’s understanding that elected officials should open their doors to local employers that invest in Michigan communities. The MMA is one of a very loud, diverse set of interests but, through Senator Shirkey’s support, it has always been looked to for advice and has had a seat at the table on any number of policy issues affecting its members.
Regardless of the complex and expansive agenda he oversees — including securing auto insurance reform, pulling together all sides in annual budget discussions and finding consensus in the funding of Michigan roads — manufacturers know Senator Shirkey will set aside the time to hear them and help them because he is one of them.
When you hear Senator Shirkey speak about manufacturing, even the most ardent opposition can hear his passion. Through his voice, he has helped to turn many of his colleagues around on complex issues by highlighting how Michigan’s leading employers and their employees and families will be affected now and into the future.
“The manufacturing industry is at a critical point in its history,” reminds Shirkey. “Technology is forcing us to be nimble and to adapt. Michigan has one of the best and most skilled workforces in the world because of the manufacturing sector. We must be aware of the marketplace and be willing to adjust our operations in order to remain relevant and necessary as the manufacturing industry transforms over the next decade.”
It cannot be understated how Michigan and its manufacturing industry is stronger for the role Mike Shirkey plays as Senate Majority Leader and as a public servant for his state. MMA and its membership are proud to celebrate his hard work, impeccable integrity and service to the industry.
The MFG Legislative Excellence award honors a lawmaker who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in supporting Michigan manufacturers. The award is presented at the annual MFG Excellence Awards in November.