Skills gap is focus of governor’s Talent Summit.

March 19, 2013

While Michigan’s economy has made steady gains, employers, educators, community leaders, and job seekers are gathered in Detroit, Michigan to discuss a looming threat to the state’s continued recovery – the skills gap, as part of Governor Rick Snyder’s two-day Talent Summit.

In his opening remarks, Governor Snyder noted that the state could bring down its unemployment rate 1.5 percent just by filling the 63,000 open positions currently being advertised on the job search engine managed by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Much of the summit was focused on strategies for keeping young, educated Michiganders in the state as a way to address the structural nature of the state’s unemployment rate. However, a statewide skills-building strategy that just focuses on youth and young adults will miss the mark. If demographic trends hold, 64 percent of Michigan’s workforce in the year 2020 will have been working for 15 years or more—long past the traditional high school-to-college pipeline. Adults must be part of the solution for closing the state’s skills gap, including those who are in low-wage, low-skill jobs; unemployed or recently laid off; or don’t yet have the basic math and reading skills to enter a training program.
The Governor has emphasized that any winning strategy for closing the state’s skills gap must gather better data on the skill needs of key industries, create training and education programs in response to this data, and give job seekers opportunities to enroll in these programs. This thinking sits squarely within the policy agenda of the Michigan Workforce Development Coalition and the skills strategy of the National Skills Coalition.

Specifically, the Governor and state policymakers should invest in:

Sector partnerships to alleviate current and future skill shortages within an industry by creating capacity for a convening organization, also known as a workforce intermediary, to build a partnership with multiple firms within that industry, community-based organizations, labor unions, local workforce boards, technical colleges, and trade associations to develop customized training solutions for that industry; and

Career pathways so that adult students can earn postsecondary educational credentials while they work and support their families. Career pathways are reconfigured education and training programs that can get adult learners through the educational pipeline further and faster. They can also ease adult learners’ transitions from one program to the next and across institutions, expand their financial aid options, and connect them with supportive services so they can complete education and training programs in a timely fashion.

Follow these links to read more about the policy agenda of the Michigan Workforce Development Coalition and National Skills Coalition’s skills strategy.