Michigan 'Marshall Plan' for Talent

March 26, 2018

Michigan has announced $100 million in new funding for public colleges and K-12 schools as part of a broader effort to help fill more than 800,000 high-wage jobs in high-demand fields in coming years.

The new money will be spent in part on the creation of competency-based certifications and curricula across Michigan's public education systems, state officials said. The funding also will be used for scholarships, career advisers and teachers. It complements an additional $225 million in state spending aimed at closing the skills gap in information technology, computer science, manufacturing, health care and other areas. Employers are participating in the project and are working with community colleges in the state to change hiring requirements to better match up with certificate and two-year degree programs.

Roger Curtis, the director of Michigan's department of talent and economic development, said part of the goal is to help college students get more and better information about careers in in professional and vocational trades.

"A lot of the talent gap is a career-awareness gap," he said in an interview.

The move toward competency-based curricula will be a heavy lift, Curtis said. Much of that work will occur through partnerships between colleges and employers, he said, with the state largely playing a hands-off role.

"We don't want to dictate what this looks like," said Curtis. "We're going to leave this up to the experts."

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