This article appeared in the July 2018 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
Advancements in technology are rapidly changing our world and that’s especially true of the manufacturing industry, where yet another industrial revolution is taking place. As modern manufacturing becomes more advanced and high-tech, manufacturers across Michigan and the nation are making a familiar plea: close the skills gap.
Through 2024, it’s anticipated that Michigan’s manufacturing industry will need an average of roughly 109,400 workers due to the industry’s rapid growth and retiring workers. Entry-level posts such as machinists and CNC operators are high-demand jobs with advancement potential. Meanwhile, more high-paying positions like robotics technicians and mechanical, industrial, and electric engineers also are facing a critical shortage of skilled workers.
However, this isn’t just a manufacturing problem. The talent shortage is affecting several key industries in Michigan, including IT and computer science, health care, business, and other professional trades. Altogether, more than 811,000 high-demand career openings are expected over the next six years.
The reality is that our current education and talent development system is not geared to meet the demand and keep up with where the world is going.
It’s time for a massive revolution in education and talent development. It’s time for the Marshall Plan for Talent.
The Marshall Plan is the capstone catalyst that builds on many great efforts and programs already in place to help create a world-class talent and educational pipeline. It’s a revolutionary approach to better prepare Michiganders for the jobs of today and tomorrow by increasing career exploration, evolving to learning based on competency, fostering business and education collaboration and creating multiple pathways to well-paying careers.
Passed by the Michigan Legislature last month and supported by MMA, the plan will invest $100 million in new funding over five years in innovative programs to revolutionize our talent and education system. These include competency-based certification, assistance for schools to improve curricula and classroom equipment, scholarships and stipends, and support for career navigators and teachers. The funding will complement the more than $225 million in funding dedicated to ongoing talent development efforts in Michigan.
We need you, our manufacturers and job providers, to join the revolution and help redesign the ways we invest in, develop, and attract talent in our state.
The work begins with tearing down the silos between education and business — to open the lines of communication and collaboration. We are beginning to see this happen with the formation of talent consortiums between business, K-12 and higher ed, who realize our economic future depends on collaboration between these sectors. Similarly, employers need to adapt to changes in the supply of talent by changing their requirements for hiring — recognizing that many in-demand skills can be acquired through certificate programs and two-year degrees.
There isn’t any one right path to a rewarding career. It’s important that we embrace a model of education and talent development that increases student and adult exposure to career opportunities and pathways. We need to acknowledge that lifelong learning is important for everyone and have a system that allows students to move forward at any pace, place, time and way.
The state that best closes the talent gap will have a competitive advantage in the 21st Century economy. Through the Marshall Plan, Michigan will be that winning state.