Local business and education leaders participate in a workshop at Adrian College to learn about the Marshall Plan for Talent.

Local leaders discuss Marshall Plan for Talent

Sara Cambensy

ADRIAN — Local business and education leaders think the Marshall Plan for Talent will work well with what many already are doing.

And they’re excited about the new possibilities that could come with it.

David Wilhoit, president and CEO of Wacker Chemical Corp., said when Wacker was challenged by Gov. Rick Snyder to be a business partner in the Marshall Plan for Talent initiative, the corporation jumped on board. Wilhoit said the initiative is well aligned with Wacker’s goals to grow its operations and capabilities, which, in part, entail adding new employees, ranging from 80 to 100, over the next two to three years, including some at its North American headquarters in Raisin Township.

Wilhoit said growing the talent base of potential employees would be a big benefit to them and the state in general. He said Wacker always has worked to reach out to students, both college and younger, to stimulate interest in the careers related to science, technology and engineering. He also said Wacker is a big believer in retraining and lifelong learning.

Knowing this, he said Wacker is “really excited” about the Marshall Plan for Talent.

More than 70 business and education leaders gathered Monday at Adrian College to learn about the Marshall Plan for Talent and discuss partnership opportunities to revolutionize Michigan’s education and talent development system.

“The Marshall Plan for Talent is about taking a close look at how Michigan develops talent with in-demands skills employers need to continue the state’s forward-moving economic prosperity and creating innovative solutions to close our talent gap,” Roger Curtis, director of the Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan, said in a press release on the workshop.

According to the TED news release, the plan, which passed through the state Legislature last week and is on its way to the governor to be signed into law, calls for investing an additional $100 million in innovative programs to revolutionize Michigan’s talent and education system. It will support schools that want to transform education through programs like competency-based certification, world-class curriculums and classroom equipment, scholarships and stipends, and support for career navigators and teachers. The funding complements the more than $225 million in existing talent development efforts in Michigan.

“The folks in Adrian have a strong foundation to build on and today are taking important steps in forming the partnerships needed to tear down silos and move Michigan further, faster,” Curtis said.

Local business, K-12 and higher-education participants discussed needs, potential barriers and partnerships needed to help from consortiums that will allow them to apply for Marshall Plan funds Monay at Adrian College during one in a series of workshops being held around the state.

“The Marshall Plan for Talent is exciting in that it will strengthen relationships among educators and businesses,” said Tina Matz, the director of workforce training in Jackson College’s Corporate and Continuing Education program. “It’s an opportunity to advance upon real-time workforce training solutions that are both innovative and inclusive in design.”

Matz said the plan aligns with several initiatives at Jackson College, including the work with schools through the Jackson Area College and Career Connection Early/Middle College program, the Jackson County Early College partnership and the Jackson Preparatory and Early College.

“In addition, several of our internal programs directly align with the Marshall Plan, including the work-based learning program, our current transition into competency-based education pathways, alignment of courses to apprenticeship training, and industry-credential training opportunities,” Matz said.

Lenawee Intermediate School District Superintendent Mark Haag also agreed the initiative aligns well with what the LISD already is doing and added it looks like it will provide a potential ability to grow the learning opportunities. Haag said the plan could take things in a deeper direction by getting more people at the table for conversations on working together. He said the plan could spur on collaboration around the county.

Programs such as the LISD’s career preparation services, the professional development center, adult education and the Tech Center, Haag said, are headed in the same direction as the plan wants to go. He said going forward the plan will be determining how they and individual county school districts or groups of districts might be able to take advantage of the initiative’s grants and offerings.

State leaders said the Marshall Plan is a critical part in ensuring the state can compete globally in the race for the most and best talent for in-demand careers, the TED news release said.

“Michigan wins when we all come together and collaborate on innovative solutions that move our state forward,” Curtis said. “The Marshall Plan for Talent is another conduit for those collaborations that will lead to revolutionizing Michigan’s talent development system. It’s also an opportunity to connect Michiganders with high-demand, high-wage careers that grow their paychecks and help build vibrant and strong communities along the way.”

Michigan will have more than 811,000 career openings to fill through 2024 in fields that are facing a critical talent shortage. As the state considers talent preparation changes for these fields, the greatest demand for talent will be in increasingly high-skill, high-tech fields such as in information technology and computer science, manufacturing, health care and other business and professional trades careers.

For more information about the Marshall Plan for Talent, visit www.michigan.gov/marshallplan.