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CAREER PATHWAYS: State to Focus on Competency-Based Learning

Local School-to-Work Pathways/STEM Apprenticeships in Progress

November 20, 2017       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Closing Michigan's talent gap can be accomplished if students get better access to career pathways and schools receive more support to enhance programs, says Gov. Rick Snyder.

The state has launched new initiatives including expanding and strengthening career technical education statewide.

This will be done through a series of approaches, including curriculum changes, increased collaboration between educators and employers, and added resources for students to discover and prepare for potential employment opportunities.

"We all have an important role in making sure every student has the opportunity to explore multiple pathways to find a career that matches their interests and goals," Snyder said. "We call this effort the Michigan Career Pathways Alliance."

(NOTE: A Bay area initiative aimed primarily at adult learners (non-graduates of high school), called School to Work Pathways, with a STEM Apprenticeships component, was launched last March, prior to an announcement of the state plans. The group is headed by Dr. George Corser, Computer Science professor, of Saginaw Valley State University and is marshaling collaboration in the community.)

Snyder added: "We are bringing together economic developers, employers, and educators, as well as K-12 districts and higher education institutions with union leaders and businesses."

The proposals complement the Governor's priorities from the 21st Century Education Commission report, including statewide use of competency-based learning, creating more career paths for teachers, increasing access to post-secondary education, and holding the right people accountable.

At Snyder's direction, Talent and Economic Development Director Roger Curtis together with State Superintendent Brian Whiston, have worked with stakeholders and gather valuable feedback. They have discussed challenges and concerns surrounding career exploration and job readiness, and then built recommendations to help Michigan residents, educators and job providers.

States across the country are struggling to fill openings in the professional trades, and leading the nation in developing talent was a key recommendation of the report issued by Snyder's Building the 21st Century Economy Commission.

"We need to change the perceptions of the professional trades so students, parents, and others know about the outstanding opportunities that are out there as Michigan businesses grow and thrive," Curtis said. "But that's only part of the job. Once we've shattered stereotypes, we need to have a stronger system in place for students to determine the best pathway for them, rather then have access to the rigorous training to get them to the job they want -- no matter where they live."

The commission report also included recommendations to make Michigan a world leader in talent. Many of these recommendations, including increased funding for high school and at-risk students, a focus on competency-based learning, and more access to post-secondary learning, were adopted by the state Legislature during the budget process.

Whiston on Monday signed a directive setting some of the actions in place immediately. Others are recommendations that would require legislative changes or would be the first steps in an important discussion about addressing long-term challenges.

"Every educator wants to see students reach their potential, and we're working to give them new tools to help," Whiston said. "Some of these changes present a different way of approaching these challenges, and we're looking to have Michigan lead the nation in developing talent at all levels. Career and college readiness is vitally important for our students, and for our communities and state as a whole."

The announcement was made at Brose North America, an automotive supplier that was a founding member of Gov. Snyder's Michigan Advanced Technician Training program and a sponsor of FIRST Robotics and SquareOne. The company this year is starting its first high school apprenticeship program, working with the Oakland Schools career program.

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at carraroe@aol.com)

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