Preparing Students for Vital Careers of the Future

This article appeared in the July/August 2022 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.

It’s no secret — especially among manufacturers —  that Michigan is battling a skilled labor shortage.

In every corner of the state, high-demand jobs go unfilled because companies can’t find workers with the training and education those jobs require. Long-term employment projections forecast nearly 530,000 jobs in high-wage fields will be available in the state by 2028.

So how do we fill this talent gap? As Michigan’s economy continues to evolve, STEM learning will play an even more significant role.

That’s because a STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) can benefit students headed down any career path. STEM learning positions Michigan students for career success by building 21st-Century skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, digital literacy, collaboration, flexibility and creativity.

The MiSTEM Advisory Council, created in 2015, is a bipartisan-approved panel tasked by Governor Rick Snyder with setting a strategic vision for STEM in Michigan and moving that vision to action through the MiSTEM Network.

The MiSTEM Network, established by the council, unites education, business and community partners across the state to create pathways for all students to consider and pursue high-wage, high-demand careers. Through 16 regional hubs, the network encourages learning experiences beyond the physical classroom where students can take part in real-world activities that are relevant to their lives, communities and career development.

And it’s working.

Become a STEM Supporter

  • Provide STEM expertise and career connections to classroom learning by engaging in problem-, place- and project-based (3P) learning
  • Offer employee volunteers to support educators, schools, summer programs and the community (Science Olympiad, Robotics, Junior Achievement)
  • Donate financial resources — funds, grants or sponsorships Co-host with school career fairs, STEM fairs or professional conferences
  • Host facility tours (in-person or virtual), highlighting STEM occupations, STEM careers and your employees
  • Offer student internships or teacher externships (to experience real-world application of STEM content)
  • Provide mentorship for future courses and careers Offer job shadowing

Every day, middle and high school students are starting to gain real-world experiences that foster career awareness, while businesses benefit by building their talent pipelines and increasing brand recognition in their community.

In West Michigan, the Grand Valley State University Regional Math and Science Center (RMSC) is advancing STEM by engaging K-12, higher education, business and community stakeholders.

Through local and state partnerships, for example, the MiSTEM Network’s Greater West Michigan Region and RMSC in July offered a new Advanced Manufacturing summer camp for middle-schoolers. The popular sessions included 3D Printing, Design Thinking and Automation along with industry tours, a career fair and a meet-and-greet with the Women in Manufacturing Association.

The MiSTEM Network prides itself on its role as a convener. We invite all members of the Michigan Manufacturers Association to join us in providing real-world learning that trains a robust and diverse STEM workforce.

To contact your regional director, visit MiSTEM’s website at boards-comms-councils/mistem/about.