There are 100,000 unfilled jobs right now in Michigan.
Roger Curtis, director of the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development, said this is due to a career awareness gap rather than a talent gap in the state.
He said the newly formed Michigan Career Pathways Alliance has already drafted 17 initiatives that will address this gap especially when it comes to exploring vocational trades.
“It’s about changing the conversation," Curtis said. "A lot of adults have preconceived negative stereotypes of trades in Michigan and don’t have any idea of what they’re really like and how they’ve changed over the years."
He said courses like "Geometry and Carpentry" in the northern part of Michigan, for example, still fulfill state standards while using vocational skills to teach the practical applications of the subject.
"For far too long us adults have lumped kids into two buckets: Either you’re smart enough to go to college or you’re not, and that’s just a terrible way to sort kids. So we want to start talking about the multiple pathways," Curtis said.
And although he said some skeptics will say that of course there are plenty of jobs at McDonalds, these alternative pathways also might include jobs in healthcare, construction, advanced manufacturing, and technology jobs.