Editor's note: Gov. Snyder sets up a jobs legacy

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

Gov. Rick Snyder signed his “Marshall Plan for Talent” into law last Tuesday, cementing a large piece of his final-year agenda. He sees this as a significant foundation for the state’s future workforce by creating a framework that should help fill hundreds of thousands of job openings in coming years.

“There’s a lot of opportunity,” Snyder told me in an interview last week ahead of the signing. “I think it accelerates this process a lot.”

The “Marshall Plan for Talent,” a reference to post-World War II efforts to rebuild Western Europe, seeks to prepare residents for what the Snyder administration projects could be as many as 811,000 job openings through 2024 in fields currently facing worker shortages.

The Marshall Plan is all about increasing communication among stakeholders, including K-12 schools, community colleges and employers, with the idea of filling key vacancies in well-paying jobs. Snyder estimates that more than 800,000 job openings will exist by 2024, and many of those jobs don’t require four-year college degrees. The plan will set aside $100 million over a few years to jump-start new programs and collaborations around Michigan.

For instance, the governor talks about the demand for computer programmers, who can often make an average of $75,000 a year with less than two years of training.

Part of the Marshall Plan includes an increased emphasis on career counseling and getting young people — starting as early as middle school — to think about a variety of possible careers.

Another focus of the plan will be on lifelong learning and helping workers transition into new jobs if their old ones go away. As someone who works in the newspaper business, that’s something that makes a lot of sense to me.

“If you look at many of us, we’ll go through a couple major retrainings during our lifetime in almost any field, and we’re not set up in our society right now to do that very well,” Snyder says. “There’s some large organizations and employers that do it themselves and community colleges to some degree. But overall there’s a real lack of resources to do lifelong learning.”

The signing of the Marshall Plan also comes on the heels of a new business-led coalition, Launch Michigan, calling attention to shortfalls in Michigan's schools. Similarly, Snyder had also formed a 21st Century Education Commission, which came out with its recommendations last year. The governor sees all these efforts coalescing.

“I think they complement one another,” Snyder says. “Much of the Marshall Plan concept came out of the education commission. And to the degree there are other organizations looking at how to help people to get a good education and launch into a good career, the Marshall Plan is right in line with that.”