Michigan’s Governor and Top Legislative Leaders Talk Housing
SENATE MINORITY LEADER JIM ANANICH There’s no doubt that there is a serious talent gap issue in our state, and it is an issue I have been dedicated to addressing since I first came to Lansing. The first step is making sure kids have quality k-12 education and access to trades programs, community college and beyond. That’s why I sponsored the initiative to make Flint, Michigan a Promise Zone. Now, high school graduates in my city have tuition-free access to the first two years of community college. We can also be doing more to help workers access training to update their skills so they are ready to work with the newest technology, tools and programs. I expect that legislators across the aisle will be able to find common ground here and work together to make it happen.
HOUSE SPEAKER LEE CHATFIELD Emphasizing the value of the skilled trades and opening up new career pathways for students has been a major priority of the Legislature over the past few years. The problem is that we still have so far to go, and the talent shortage is holding back many small businesses in our state. As a former teacher, I have seen first-hand how students struggle to understand how many options they have and how beneficial a career in construction or related field can be. These are good jobs, and our children deserve to know about them before making lifelong decisions. That is why we are already looking at new ways to increase the options available to students in all schools statewide, make curriculum requirements more flexible, and inform the next generation and their parents about the opportunities they have to seek career paths outside a four year college degree. We have made good progress in this area, but there is still much more we can do to help.
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER CHRISTINE GREIG Prioritizing skills training and workforce development programs are key for us to better equip our future workforce with the tools and resources necessary to enter the construction industry. Beyond that, ensuring they make a decent wage is crucial for us to keep them in these positions, which is why House Democrats support reinstating Michigan’s prevailing wage laws.
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MIKE SHIRKEY A while ago, we adopted the phrase “Not every child needs to go to college.” While the statement is true, it is also negative. Instead we need to replace that mentality with the phrase, “Every student needs a career plan.” Michigan is dealing with a talent gap in many sectors across our economy. I believe we need to focus on making it easier for students to gain practical experience in the workplace and we need to focus on working with each student to develop a career plan suited to the interests and abilities of that student. The plan should be flexible and dynamic and change as the student changes his or her interests, but we need to make a deliberate connection between the education path and the career path.
GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER We’ve done a huge disservice to our state by telling our kids that the only way to be successful is to go to a four-year university because that’s not true. We have so many different opportunities in our state, and, as those jobs continue to evolve, we need to make sure that people have the skills to compete for those jobs. That’s why I set a new statewide goal to increase the number of Michiganders with a postsecondary credential to 60 percent by 2030 because we need to continue improving our skills. In order to meet this goal, I outlined three new pathways in my State of the State address: Michigan Reconnect and MI Opportunity Scholarships. Michigan Reconnect will provide a tuition-free pathway to an in-demand industry certificate or associate degree for Michigan adults (25+). The Michigan Opportunity Scholarship offers two paths to help graduating high school students obtain a postsecondary credential. The first path provides graduating high school students with two years of tuition-free postsecondary education at a community college. The second path provides two years of tuition assistance at a public or not-for-profit four-year university for students with a B GPA or higher and who demonstrate financial need. Regardless of which direction someone wants to take, we will have a pathway to develop the skills workers need to get a good-paying job --whether college is right for them or not. When we make this investment and set this goal, we will see a boom in the number of qualified workers, which will help businesses grow and thrive. l

Question

One of the biggest challenges facing the residential home building and remodeling sectors is the lack of workers. What strategies and policies do you believe will help encourage more students and future workers into construction careers?

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