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Labor and Economic Opportunity

Michigan unveils state-of-the-art online career exploration tool to help students, families, job seekers, veterans and educators in designing successful 21st-century job pathways

Ingham Intermediate School District debuts free Pathfinder e-tool

LANSING, Mich. (Oct. 23, 2017)  – The Michigan Talent Investment Agency, state Department of Education and Ingham Intermediate School District educators today unveiled Pathfinder, a new state-of-the-art online career exploration tool that’s designed to address the need to increase the number of Michigan residents with high-quality, in-demand degrees and credentials.

“Pathfinder will support the state’s innovation-driven campaign to make sure people have the knowledge, skills and training necessary to succeed at getting 21st-century jobs,” said Roger Curtis, director of the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development, which developed the system in collaboration with the Talent Investment Agency, Michigan Department of Education, Michigan College Access Network, Michigan Virtual University and Michigan Works! agencies.

“No other source exists with such rich, Michigan-specific career planning data, including detailed job projections, annual openings, growth potential, salaries and schools in Michigan that offer programs of interest,” said Curtis during a news conference to announce the debut of Pathfinder at the Ingham Intermediate School District Wilson Talent Center in Mason.

“Pathfinder will help students, their parents and school guidance staff make informed choices about educational and career options, as well as to guide the creation of educational development plans.”

The free, first-of-its-kind-in-Michigan tool uses current labor market information, longitudinal wage data and other institutional data and metrics, allowing improved skills matching to career paths and jobs. The tool will be provided to all Michigan school districts during the 2017-18 school year, with rollouts being planned through January 2018 at schools in Marquette, Flint, Saginaw, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Cadillac, Traverse City and metro Detroit, among other communities.

“The goal of Pathfinder is to promote student success with relevant information to develop education plans for any desired career, and help Michigan students learn the steps necessary to get there,” said State Superintendent Brian Whiston. “We are helping provide the tools and options for students and their families to help ensure all are ‘exit ready’ as they transition to college and careers.”

The project to develop the Pathfinder career exploration tool kicked off in September 2016. The Pathfinder project is funded with state appropriations and federal grant monies. It was developed with internal state government resources and is integrated into the Pure Michigan Talent Connect framework. The 2017 launch of the tool is intended to provide:

  • Michigan-specific education and occupation information;
  • Return on investment information that indicates the investment in education and employability data that is available, so users can make informed education and career decisions;
  • A complete training path picture when a career goal is chosen, and that assists the student/job seeker in creating plans for a complete career path.

“While the target audience for the tool is middle and high school students, Pathfinder can also benefit those seeking to change careers or transition from military service into the workforce,” noted Talent Investment Agency Director Wanda Stokes. “Utilization of the Pathfinder tool will help improve matching of one’s skills to relevant career paths, ultimately increasing the number of residents with high-quality certificates, degrees and credentials in Michigan.” 

Pathfinder is designed to provide real-time, value-added information for users to make more informed decisions on education and career opportunities. Additionally, it supports numerous state goals:

  • TIA’s commitment to customer-focused services by engaging citizens early about opportunities.
  • Michigan’s focus to attract and retain qualified talent to fill targeted industry skills gaps.
  • Coordination with the state’s “Going PRO” campaign to improve perceptions about Professional Trades occupations through highlighting these careers and showing the benefits of entering a skilled trade.
  • MDE’s commitment to becoming a top 10 education state within the next 10 years and strategic goals to improve college/career readiness and create a strong alignment and partnership with applicable stakeholders to ensure an informed, prepared and quality future workforce.

Today’s press conference featured testimonials from Greater Lansing-area ISD students as well as educators, including Ingham Intermediate School District Superintendent Scott Koenigsknecht and the ISD’s Career and Technical Education Director Jeanne Farina.

The four Ingham ISD students who participated in a Pathfinder pilot program and who highlighted how they are already benefiting from the experience were:

  • Daniel Ballagh, a junior at Stockbridge High School who plans to study risk management and become a loss control consultant.
  • Jose Bonilla III, a senior at Waverly High School who envisions becoming an airplane pilot.
  • Leydi Rodriguez, a junior at Lansing Eastern High School who dreams of owning her own restaurant.
  • Nathan Rubingh, a home-schooled junior in the Holt school district who also aims to become an airplane pilot. 

For more information about Pathfinder, visit