Michigan must better align the talent of its people with the needs of job providers to ensure success in the new economy, Gov. Rick Snyder said today.
The governor released his Special Message to the Legislature on Talent Development during a news conference at Delta College in University Center. It offers strategies to reinvent the way in which we prepare children for fulfilling careers, reshape how Michiganders look for work and redesign the way in which employers obtain the skills they need. "Tomorrow's opportunities cannot be realized with yesterday's skills," Snyder said. "It's time to develop the next generation of talent. Today's young employees will have multiple careers in their lifetimes. The skills they attain must be marketable and transferrable. We need to align the aptitudes and career passions of job seekers with the current and evolving needs of employers."
Too few workers have the skills to meet employer demands in the new economy. Thousands of jobs remain unfilled despite Michigan's 10.6 percent unemployment rate. The state faces significant staffing challenges in areas such as agriculture, nursing, engineering and welding.
The governor announced the launch of an online tool that will help ensure the state's economic development and talent enhancement are occurring in tandem. Pure Michigan Talent Connect is a talent marketplace available at www.MiTalent.org. It eliminates the need for the multiple websites that now exist, many of which are duplicative or incomplete.
The site will feature tools that job creators and job seekers need to make better-informed decisions. Users will be able to assess their skills, evaluate the return on investment for an education or training program, browse careers and connect with mentors.
The site is being launched in phases for a June 2012 completion. The first phase, now available, features the Career Matchmaker and the Career Investment Calculator. The Career Matchmaker helps individuals determine the industries and locations where their skills are in high demand today and where they are projected to be. The Career Investment Calculator helps those who are pursuing training or retraining to make informed decisions.
Once completed, Pure Michigan Talent Connect will let Michiganders create an electronic talent portfolio early in their educational careers, driving everything form curriculum choices to career paths. It is developed by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.
The governor's special message also cites the need to:
* Do a better job of connecting Michigan veterans with career opportunities. Despite their skills and transferrable technical expertise, there was an unemployment rate of 29.4 percent among Michigan's Afghanistan and Iraq veterans in 2010. The national average was 11.5 percent. The governor is directing the Workforce Development Agency, Michigan Works! and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to create a seamless delivery system for veteran benefits and employment services. The governor also is challenging more businesses to reach out to veterans. He is asking the Detroit Regional Chamber to partner with the state to promote the benefits of hiring veterans.
* Focus on producing talent in areas where the state has a high occupational demand. State support for post-secondary education should concentrate on areas that enhance Michigan's economic development strategy and encourage students to stay in the state. A recent Center for Michigan report concludes that the state graduated 20 percent too few computer and math professionals, 14 percent too few health care professionals and 3 percent too few engineers in 2009-10.
* Address the critical need for computer programming talent. The MEDC is creating a program called Shifting Code that generates a supply of high-demand programmers while giving small businesses the technology assistance they need. The initiative launches in January 2012 with pilots in Ann Arbor, Detroit and Kalamazoo.
* Bring greater flexibility to the nation's immigration laws so foreign investment and job growth is not impaired. For example, Snyder will petition the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to renew, modify and make permanent the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center program, which is set to expire in September 2012. The program gives international investors the chance to live here by investing in Michigan's economy and creating jobs. He also is directing the MEDC and Michigan Department of Civil Rights to implement a Cultural Ambassadors program that leverages Michigan's natural, technological and human resources to integrate new talent into our communities.
Other initiatives include promoting mentorship by asking the Michigan Jaycees to continue its leadership through a collaboration with the state Community Service Commission's Mentor Michigan program; redesigning Michigan's Jobs, Education and Training (JET) program to include meaningful performance measures; modernizing the Michigan Works! program; urging greater flexibility in the federal Work Investment Act; creating a Governor's Talent Investment Board that will bring citizen involvement and oversight to Michigan's talent enhancement effort; asking legislative partners to enact a work-sharing law that lets Michigan retain more of its talent; and asking lawmakers to allow the Unemployment Insurance Agency to let displaced Michiganders pursue entrepreneurship through self-employment assistance.
The entire Special Message on Talent Development is at www.michigan.gov/snyder.