©2018 Michigan Economic Development Corporation

New Report Highlights Michigan Workforce Needs

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Jennifer Kopp

Technically Trained Workers Necessary to Support High-Tech Economy

A shortage of skilled workers could present a significant long-term threat to Michigan’s economic competitiveness, according to a study issued today by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). 

The study calls for attracting and recruiting more workers into technical careers and making Michigan’s workforce training system more responsive to the changing needs of the business community. 

“There is no question that Michigan’s economy is evolving and diversifying into one that requires large numbers of technically trained workers,” said Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of the MEDC. “If the demand for skilled workers is not met, the shortfall could seriously hinder the state’s economic potential.” 

Data included in the study indicates that 22 million new jobs will be created in the U.S. in the next nine years and that 36 million more openings may result from people retiring or leaving the workforce. Yet the nation may fall more than 4.8 million workers short of meeting this demand, with Michigan following the national trend. 

“Michigan’s 28 community colleges look forward to being an active partner in new initiatives in the state to help meet business and industry’s demand for skilled workers. Community colleges already provide a wide variety of education, training, and support services to current and future members of the workforce, and we welcome the opportunity to assist with the development of new processes and systems,” said C.J. Shroll, executive director of the Workforce Development Initiative at the Michigan Community College Association. 

In addition to low birth rates and other demographic factors, the perceived stigma attached to technical and vocational training programs was also cited as a reason for the growing shortage of technically trained workers. 

The study’s recommendations to curtail the shortfall include developing a marketing strategy to “de-stigmatize” vocational training programs. The marketing strategy would be a cooperative effort between the MEDC, Michigan Works! agencies, the Michigan Community College Association and the Michigan Department of Career Development. 

Other recommendations from the study include reviewing financial incentives to encourage training for technical careers and the development of a skills-based credentialing system for community college programs. 

In recent years Michigan has implemented a number of innovative training initiatives, including: 

  • creation of 18 Michigan Technical Education CentersSM (M-TECsSM); 
  • creation of the Michigan Virtual University; 
  • creation of the Career Pathways program; 
  • creation of 42 WorkKeys® Centers; 
  • establishment of the Michigan Career Readiness Certificate; and 
  • modifications to the Economic Development Job Training program. 

As a result, Michigan has one of the nation’s best workforce development and training systems according to the National Alliance of Business. A recent issue of Expansion Management magazine ranked Michigan as third in the nation for its workforce training. 

“Since its creation by Governor John Engler in 1999, The Michigan Department of Career Development (MDCD) has taken the lead role in developing several highly-utilized career development services that help students and job seekers prepare or retrain for the challenging careers of today and tomorrow,” said Dr. Barbara Bolin, MDCD director. “We have formed good working partnerships with Michigan employers, K-12 schools, community colleges, and local Workforce Development Boards and as a result of our collaboration this state’s career development system is second to none.” 

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a partnership between the state and local communities, promotes smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life. 

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