Will $100 million help to fill Michigan’s talent pipeline, give employers the skilled workers they need but can’t find, and enhance a education system to better prepare students and teachers in an ever-changing economy?
Gov. Rick Snyder is hoping all of that will be accomplished as he signed into law the Marshall Plan for Talent Tuesday afternoon in Muskegon, which will appropriate $100 million in Fiscal Year 2018 from the state’s Talent Investment Fund for the purpose of improving the state’s talent pool.
The plan, which was first introduced in February, aims to fill the state’s talent gap and better prepare students for high-paying, in-demand careers, by investing millions in innovative job training, workforce development and education programs. This includes $30 million to create and expand competency-based programs that result in competencies or credentials in high-demand fields.
According to Snyder, Michigan will have more than 811,000 career openings to fill through 2024 in fields that are facing a critical talent shortage. This includes nearly $50 billion in earnings on the table for Michiganders.
Much of the plan is focused on restructuring the state’s public education system to better provide students and teachers with the tools they need to adapt to the ever-changing job market. This includes establishing more competency-based certification programs, new curriculum and classroom equipment, scholarships and stipends, and support for career navigators and teachers.
Snyder spoke with The Oakland Press on Monday. He said the plan will help students find opportunities in many of the in-demand fields, where employers are having a tough time filling positions, such at information technology, computer science, manufacturing, healthcare and professional trades.
“We need to provide a better pathway for students in helping them to develop a talent in the skilled trades and other career fields,” said Snyder. “We also need to get parents to be more open-minded about these opportunities that exist for their children.”
Snyder said one of the motivating factors behind the creation of the plan were the results of the 21st Century Michigan Education Commission’s report, which was released in May 2017. It identified areas in which the state’s education system fell short in equipping students with the skills needed to prepare them for college and a career.
He added that the plan is about creating a lifelong learning concept where people have access to more career learning opportunities to either be re-trained in their current line or work or receive training in a new area of expertise in order to keep up with the changing workforce needs.
“Many people enroll in one or two major retraining sessions during their career,” said Snyder. “We don’t have a lot of systems to do that for people here in the state. Part of this plan is to break down those silos and provide a better working environment so our education and business communities can better communicate, allowing them to work closer together, help to train people and develop in-demand talent.”
Doug Smith, Oakland Community College’s executive director of workforce development, said the relationship between colleges, universities and the business industry has to change because that’s the key to the state’s success in its ability to close the talent gap.
“We’ve got to listen very carefully to the businesses of all sizes and types so we know and understand better exactly the skillsets they need,” said Smith. “This is as much an issue about re-educating and re-training the existing workforce as it is about bringing new people into the workforce with the appropriate skills.”
He said the plan helps establish the priorities of developing more skilled trades talent, integrating the business and education communities, job training and bringing more awareness into the elementary and middle schools.
“I was excited when the plan first came out and I think it can help us a great deal,” said Smith. “There are a lot of exciting things going on in the area of job training but we need to scale it up to a level where we can fill those 100,000 plus job that are open and available.”
Irene Spanos, Oakland County’s director of economic development, said the plan will help close the talent gap over time and provide more training resources in order to better prepare those who are struggling to enter the workforce.
Snyder signed the legislation at the Muskegon Community College Carolyn I. and Peter Sturrus Technology Center joined by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, State Sen. Goeff Hansen, Muskegon Community College President Dale Nesbary and Jennifer Owens of Lakeshore Advantage.