Investing in talent in Mich.

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

A Michigan initiative will help connect residents with jobs and employers with skilled workers.

In Michigan, a statewide effort is in place to help prepare students for the 21st-century economy and to help employers fill in-demand jobs. Gov. Rick Snyder visited Muskegon Community College’s Sturrus Technology Center in June to sign into law this new initiative, the Marshall Plan for Talent.

“As I travel throughout the state of Michigan, the question I hear most often has changed dramatically from ‘where are the jobs?’ to ‘where is the talent?” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “In Detroit, which has become an innovative tech hub, they’re doing incredible things in career readiness with coding certifications. In the U.P., I’ve seen students building houses based on high school geometry skills. In Muskegon, a new cutting-edge skilled trades center is the focus of downtown.

“So many areas of the state are changing their approach to education, and the Marshall Plan for Talent brings everyone together on the best approaches to match educational skills with available well-paying jobs,” he added.

There are expected to be 811,000 open jobs in fields such as IT, health sciences and manufacturing in Michigan through the year 2024, according to the governor’s website.

At its heart, the initiative is designed to connect employers with educators, to pair students with in-demand careers, and to encourage apprenticeships and mentorships with an educational focus on certifications and occupational licensing.

Community colleges are on-board with the effort. In March, Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) President Bill Pink testified before state lawmakers about the GRCC’s role in developing talent by working with community partners and building pathways to college and career.

“It’s tremendously important that we remain relevant and responsive to our students and our community,” Pink said during his testimony. “We’re listening to families and local employers, and that’s reflected in our innovative and growing programs, from early/middle college efforts in our high schools to apprenticeships that provide both an education and on-the-job training.”

He also said GRCC and other community colleges are ready to play a large role in Gov. Rick Snyder’s Marshall Plan for Talent.

The Marshall Plan has the state setting aside $100 million for in-demand workforce education. Funding can be used for equipment, staff, curriculum development, testing fees and other tools schools need to deliver these experiences to students. And included in that $100 million is $10.5 million for career navigators, who are dedicated to help guide students toward their career and associated academic goals. In addition, the state will fund $20 million in scholarships and stipends to help low-income residents get high-demand credentials.

The initiative also encourages the use of competency-based education, meaning students may earn credentials faster.

Marshall Plan Talent Consortiums will be created. They’ll be groups of educators and employers that partner to change the way students are prepared for careers. The Innovative Educator Corps also will be established to recognize innovative educators and give them an opportunity to share their ideas with others across the state.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.