The manufacturing industry has a home — Michigan. Our state is a manufacturing job epicenter. We’ve created more than 185,200 manufacturing jobs since June 2009 and expect 109,000 more through 2024.
But where our state falls short is in the number of Michiganders ready to fill these career openings, and the hundreds of thousands of other openings in industries like health care, information technology and computer science, and other professional trades careers. That shortfall is Michigan’s No. 1 threat to continued economic growth.
Make no mistake, this shortfall isn’t unique to Michigan. Manufacturers around the nation are having the same challenges in other states — they can’t find the talent with the in-demand skills needed to fill these openings. But where Michigan is leading the way is in developing a plan to address this challenge to grow the state’s economy and Michiganders’ paychecks.
The Marshall Plan for Talent is not just more money. It’s a $100-million strategic investment that leverages existing efforts and programs and infuses additional funding to ensure Michigan can compete for and win the race for the most and best talent in the world. It’s an effort to revolutionize our education and talent development systems, knowing Michigan’s bright future depends on it.
It’s also an all-together approach, inspiring government, educators, higher-education institutions and businesses to work more closely together to develop forward-looking solutions and innovative programs to improve our antiquated education and talent development systems. But what do those solutions look like?
There are a series of bills currently being discussed in the Legislature that are all part of the Marshall Plan for Talent, including HBs 5139 and 5145, and SBs 343, 684 and 685, which seek to increase career exploration opportunities for students. These bills build on the recommendations brought forth by the Michigan Career Pathways Alliance, knowing that Michigan’s talent gap stems, in part, from a career awareness gap.
The Marshall Plan also includes HBs 4315, 4316, 5141 and 5142, and SB 344, which create multiple pathways for students to gain the in-demand skills employers so desperately need.
And while some have called the plan overly ambitious, I would argue nothing is too ambitious when the stakes are student performance and preparedness, and improving a struggling education and talent development system.
If we are to fix a decades-old system and build a talent pipeline ready to fill the hundreds of thousands of jobs coming back to the state, we need to act now.
We know the state that best closes the talent gap will have a competitive advantage over others when companies look at places to locate and expand. Michigan can be that state, but legislators need to pass these bills if we want to accelerate our progress.
Chuck Hadden is president and CEO of the Michigan Manufacturers Association.