Michigan leaders visit DeWitt elementary school to promote career exploration among students

Kathleen Achtenberg

Friday, March 4, 2016

Event is part of a statewide tour that highlights career opportunities in skilled trades

Third- and fourth-graders at David Scott Elementary School in DeWitt learned today how the activities and hobbies they enjoy now can translate into good careers down the road.

Steve Arwood, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Stephanie Comai, director of the Michigan Talent Investment Agency, Tom Daldin, host of Under The Radar Michigan and Jenell Leonard, director of the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office visited with the students to encourage career exploration at an early age.  

Students learned how interests including building, drawing, appreciation for the outdoors and curiosity are traits that are translated into careers in skilled trades that are in-demand, meaningful and sustainable.  

“There is a high demand for people with technical skills, which means our future workforce, like the students we met today, has the opportunity to pursue careers that offer good-paying, sustainable jobs,” Arwood said. “However, the skilled trades industry faces misperceptions, such as jobs that are unsafe or dirty, which could hinder parents and their children from considering these as options.” 

Students learned about real-world career applications for skills for their classroom lessons. Fourth-graders in one class showed guests how they were learning about how to write computer code, and Arwood pointed out that automobiles on the road today have a tremendous amount of computer code embedded in their systems – a feature that will only increase as cars become more connected an autonomous. 

Building such skills in Michigan’s young people can help keep the state the global leader in automotive design and manufacturing for generations to come.

A recent poll, conducted on behalf of the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development, shows that Michigan parents are talking to their kids about careers at an early age. At least 65 percent of Michigan parents surveyed said they were having discussions with their child about potential career choices before the age of 13.  

While many parents and students are discussing career options, skilled trades might not be in the consideration list. According to the poll, only 47 percent of parents believe that skilled trades is a new economy job.  

However, skilled trades careers include jobs in advanced manufacturing, healthcare, IT and construction and will continue to be some of the most in-demand jobs as the economy grows and the aging workforce begins to retire.  

“It’s important for parents to have conversations with their children about career opportunities at an early age so they understand all of the different paths available to them,” said Comai. “Our goal is to make skilled trades a part of those conversations by educating kids, parents and educators about the opportunities available.” 

The event is part of a statewide tour spearheaded by Gov. Rick Snyder to connect with students, parents and educators to address perceptions and create more awareness on skilled trades careers. 

It comes at a time when employers are actively seeking skilled trade talent, and the need will continue to grow. In Michigan, there are currently more than 8,300 skilled trade jobs available, and more than 6,700 openings are expected to become available every year through 2022. 

The governor and Legislature remain committed to supporting skilled trades.  

In May 2015, a partnership was announced between the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan’s Talent Investment AgencyMike Rowe, TV host and founder of mikeroweWORKS, and Tom Daldin, host of Under the Radar Michigan to create videos that address common misconceptions and perceptions about skilled trades. 

For more information about skilled trades in Michigan, visit www.mitalent.org/skilled-trades/.  

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