I'm attending the 2013 Michigan Governor's Education Summit today. Its theme is connecting education, business, and talent to create vibrant economic opportunity in the state. It follows the Governor's Economic Summit that was held last month in Detroit.
Michigan's workforce is aging, so within 10 years, we will need a lot of highly skilled workers to take these jobs. This is a big opportunity for our state. Historically, Michigan has had a strong manufacturing economy. We are continuing with advanced manufacturing where we have an advantage over foreign countries. Here's a list of the predicted workforce needs:
Skilled trades (welders, tool and die fabricators, line workers, machinists, mechanical maintenance technicians, pipe fitters, designers, electricians, and mold makers), engineers (electrical, mechanical, electro-mechanical, manufacturing, chemical, robotics, software, metallurgy, and design), and IT specialists.
Project managment, administrative services, digital marketing, and primary care physicians and registered nurses (in particular, speciality RNs).
Adapatibility, ability to work in teams, critical thinking skills, passion, and problem-solving skills are crucial because workers need to constantly adapt to a changing workplace.
Suggestions for educators: expose secondary education kids to potential job opportunities through information and internships, and help students identify job interests, so they pursue careers where jobs will be available. Apply business principles such as continuous improvement in the classroom.
Suggestions for parents: value the skilled trades as viable careers for their children. Consider apprenticeships.
Other things we need to work on as a state: place-making so that Michigan remains attrative for young people (vibrant urban areas, capitalize on the great lakes), be positive about the state.
This conversation reminds me of the various, competing goals of education. David Labaree's work would classify this economic goal as social efficiency, the matching of talent with economic needs. This view of education, while always present, was prominent at the turn of the 20th century. This strong focus on the economy downplays the importance of the other goals of democratic equality (education for citizenship) and social mobility (education as a way to better an individual's life). In light of the fact that Governor Rick Snyder is a businessman, it is not surprising that his education agenda would be for a stronger connection between schools and the workforce.