For 40 years I’ve worked as an entrepreneur in Metro Lansing’s private sector, and finding the right talent to fill positions has never been as challenging as it is today. With just over 61 percent of the region’s students reading at grade level in the third grade and only 79 percent graduating high school, we must do better.
But how? How do we educate and train the next generation of the workforce for jobs that haven’t even been created yet?
In the past, Lansing’s private sector has had limited opportunities in truly helping the public sector re-shape itself to meet workforce and talent development needs, especially as it applies to the STEAM fields – science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
And while we’ve struggled, these jobs have only grown more prevalent. In fact, the Microsoft Corp STEM Perceptions Report says the number of science, technology, engineering and math jobs in the U.S. will grow 14 percent from 2010 to 2020, and we’re already in 2016.
If we, as the business leaders in the region, are not helping to support our schools, to prepare our students to succeed or provide them with opportunities to explore STEAM fields through internships or other means, then we are the problem. Without that education and training, people miss out on well-paying and meaningful jobs and the private sector loses the talent we are desperately searching for.
The solution? A new talent model that directly addresses Lansing’s private sector workforce development needs.
This new model is called T3: Teach. Talent. Thrive. T3 evolved from and replaced the Keep Learning effort of the last decade. It unites the public and private sectors with the workforce agencies to move the region toward measurable change.
This business-led initiative will work to ensure:
All students are reading at grade level in the third grade.
An increase in high school graduation rates so all students are college- and career-ready.
An increase in the number of adults who have degrees, certifications and the skills needed to support continued prosperity into the future.
An increase in opportunities to experience apprenticeships, skilled trades and other nontraditional paths.
With an active CEO board representing key private sector employers in four key areas –insurance, health care, advanced manufacturing and emerging technologies – T3 will lead the region’s workforce development effort, transforming Metro Lansing into the exemplary STEAM region in America.
But where do we start? The answers are in the numbers. Identifying solid metrics that outline the current state of STEAM education in the region today can serve as a compass to point T3 in a direction dedicated to our students’ success.
It is through the public and private sectors, with the help of our workforce, the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), that business leaders can shape the direction of STEAM education and workforce development in the region.
Lansing’s business leaders can and must make this happen.