GUEST VIEW: Want a good job? Think Michigan

The following editorial was published in the May 31 edition of the Detroit News:

(AP) Gov. Rick Snyder hasn’t wavered in his priorities for the remainder of his term. He’s actively pursuing the talent development program which he’s dubbed the Marshall Plan. It’s a fine sendoff and legacy for a governor who has striven to make Michigan more competitive.

The Senate on Wednesday set aside the $100 million to jump-start the program, as Snyder had requested, and now that legislation heads back to the House. That chamber had originally granted less funding for the plan, but it should sign off the full amount now.

The Marshall Plan for Talent, announced formally in February, aims to fill the more than 800,000 career openings projected through 2024 in information technology, computer science, manufacturing, health care and professional trades, among others.

The need for a more skilled and prepared workforce has been a major topic of discussion at this week’s Mackinac Policy Conference, hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber. Business executives are echoing sentiments about how skilled labor is in short supply, and the challenges that creates for their future outlook.

That’s why Snyder and his administration are pushing for the Marshall Plan.

“The opportunity is staggering in terms of how many more Michiganders can get well paying jobs and make us even more appealing for companies here to grow and to be an attraction mechanism,” Snyder told The Detroit News Wednesday.

Once the Legislature gives the final go-ahead, Snyder says he’ll begin seeking competitive bids for projects around the state. The governor envisions innovative partnerships that span the K-12, community college and higher ed spheres. He also wants businesses to partner with educational institutions so that there is more communication about local job needs.

Snyder is especially interested in expanding the number of certificate programs that can translate into good-paying jobs in a short time frame.

“These certificates are the way to go for a lot of people,” Snyder said, estimating average salaries of $60,000-$70,000 for many of these jobs.

Snyder also announced a new initiative Thursday called Choose Michigan, which seeks to attract new talent to the state, with a focus on recent graduates and young professionals in the science, technology and engineering fields, as well as the arts.

According to a recent state-commissioned survey, Midwest-based college students and professionals in these fields showed reluctance to move to Michigan for a variety of reasons. Thirty-four percent of students and 23 percent of professionals said they wouldn’t move to the state because they either weren’t familiar with Michigan or knew nothing about it.

So Snyder, along with Michigan’s Talent and Economic Development Department, want to change that and make Michigan more of a go-to state for challenging and creative careers.

“Detroit, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor are innovative tech hubs bursting at the seams with career opportunities,” said talent office Director Roger Curtis in a statement. “We’re the Comeback State, the tech state, the mobility state, the best-place-to-work-and-do-business state. It’s time to tell the world our story.”

Grooming talent within the state, along with recruiting fresh talent in high-demand fields, are the right priorities for Snyder in his final months. And this should be welcome news for Michigan business leaders, too.

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