Opinion: Marshall Plan on track to develop talent

Sheila Alles and Jeremy Hendges
The authors write: "The Marshall Plan ensures Michigan’s young people have an equal opportunity to earn rewarding high-demand, high-wage careers."

Michigan’s ability to put the spotlight on the exciting opportunities the Great Lakes State offers now and for the next generation of skilled professionals and career achievers is winning national acclaim.

CNBC, for example, has declared Michigan a Top 10 State for Winning the War on Talent in its 2018 report America’s Top States for Business.

The positive momentum continued this week as we announced the first round of grant recipients vying for $59 million in competitive Michigan Marshall Plan for Talent “Innovation Grants,” which complements the more than $225 million in existing talent development activities in the state. Nine talent consortia were awarded a total of nearly $15 million in grants, a milestone investment that marks the beginning of our strategy to help transform Michigan’s ever-changing education model and help lift Michigan in its overall drive to become a Top 10 education state in 10 years, as well.

The stakes could not be higher.

Michigan is facing a talent shortage across multiple industries that poses a formidable threat to the state’s continued economic recovery.

In every corner of Michigan, employers are looking to fill high-skill jobs in many industries, with more than 811,000 career openings in high-demand, high-wage fields expected through 2024. At the same time, Michigan’s working age population is projected to decline by 6.7 percent over the decade between 2020 and 2030 – the steepest decline of any state in the U.S.

New challenges require new solutions forged through new partnerships. The Marshall Plan for Talent represents a unique chapter in Michigan’s history.

With overwhelming bipartisan support in the Michigan Legislature, we are pushing forward to advance an unprecedented $100 million investment in innovative programs that will revolutionize Michigan’s talent and education system.

The Marshall Plan represents a game-changing collaboration between educators, employers and other stakeholders to transform Michigan’s talent pipeline and redesign the ways the state can invest, develop and attract talent in our state. The goal is to create the premier talent development and education system in the world.

The grant recipients selected this week comprise a diverse group, including 63 school districts statewide – small and large – 84 businesses, 34 postsecondary institutions, 23 industry associations, 14 Michigan Works! agencies and 42 non-profit and other organizations. The funding benefits more than 150,000 students statewide.

The grants enable schools to elevate student education through programs like competency-based certifications; world-class curricula and classroom equipment; scholarships and stipends; and support for career navigators and teachers. More grants will be announced in 2019. Our review of the pending applications shows outstanding potential and a strong vision that will revitalize classrooms and workforces.

The Marshall Plan ensures Michigan’s young people have an equal opportunity to earn rewarding high-demand, high-wage careers – for the next five years, and for decades to come.

Michigan students win when we all come together to develop creative solutions that better prepare them for the future and lifelong learning.

Jeremy Hendges is chief of staff of the Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan.

Sheila Alles is Interim State Superintendent.