Tuesday, June 16, 1998
Governor John Engler today released a major, new report to the state legislature entitled "Gold Collar Jobs: The Future of Michigan." The 20-page report, unveiled in a speech to 1,200 participants at the Governor's 1998 School-to-Work Conference in Lansing, outlines the changing nature of work in Michigan and the increasing need for high-skill, high-wage, high-demand workers--jobs which the Governor calls "gold collar." "A new generation of jobs awaits a new generation of Michigan workers," Engler said. "We are preparing for those future jobs now." The report outlines the Governor's 14-point "Gold Collar Jobs Agenda," a strategy for giving every Michigan resident the chance to benefit from the increased opportunity the new jobs offer. "Having fixed the primary problem facing Michigan, the need for jobs, we can now turn toward preparing for the future," Engler said in his letter to legislators. "Michigan's future is increasingly bright, and increasingly linked to high-skill, high-wage, high-demand jobs. These are the 'gold collar' jobs, not traditional white collar, nor traditional blue collar, jobs." The report outlines the challenge facing Michigan in the early stages of the Information Age, as the skills required to take many jobs have increased dramatically. It also details the Governor's plan to address the situation. Of the 14 points in his Gold Collar Jobs Agenda, six points have been accomplished, four are short-term solutions and four are long-term solutions. The plan calls for increased information about new career options, increased training on new technology for residents and better use of existing infrastructure for educational opportunities. "Change brings both fear and opportunity," Engler said. "But we can't stop the change, and the opportunity is so great, and our ability to seize it so strong, that our excitement should far outweigh our fear. By putting this plan into place, all Michigan residents will be better prepared to benefit from the creation of these gold collar jobs. It's a very exciting time in Michigan." Short-term solutions to the skills shortage outlined by Engler include: providing 10,000 new scholarships of up to $2,000 each for the fall of 1998; providing teachers using high-tech teaching methods with some 200 grants per year of up to $10,000 each; providing funding to keep schools, libraries and community centers open late so citizens can use the computers; and providing welfare clients training to enter better careers. Long-term solutions in Engler's report include: expanding career preparation education throughout all Michigan schools; providing local communities up to $30 million to build new technical training centers; providing $30 million to create the Michigan Virtual University for education delivered through the Internet, CD-ROM and satellite; and creating a new non-profit organization called Michigan Technologies, Inc., to oversee the state's technology plan. The report notes that many high-wage jobs do not require a traditional four-year degree and that nearly 20 percent of college graduates are working in non-college jobs. It calls for increased use of the state's community college network and increased use of more frequent short-term education, which the report terms "lifelong learning." "These jobs of the 21st century provide wonderful career opportunities for our residents," Engler said. "By having workers to fill these jobs, Michigan will be able to attract the companies that have more of them to offer. This plan will help us give every Michigan resident the chance to benefit from this historic shift."