Gov. Whitmer, Mayor Duggan and Detroit leaders drum up support for Going PRO, largest effort to help fill state's talent gap
Monday, July 8, 2019
Camara Lewis, 517-930-4928
DETROIT – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and leaders in business, education and workforce development announced Monday, July 8, the Detroit kickoff of Going PRO in Michigan, a new public-private partnership that is one of the nation’s most ambitious statewide education and awareness campaigns to help employers across the state fill an estimated 545,000 skilled-labor jobs coming open through 2026.
The Going PRO campaign, spearheaded by the Talent and Economic Development (Ted) Department of Michigan, highlights a diverse range of high-skilled trade occupations and industries – careers Ted collectively refers to as Professional Trades. Going PRO aims to dispel the myths about Professional Trades as “dark, dirty and dangerous” and showcase numerous career options, from welders, millwrights and electrical lineworkers to medical sonographers, dental hygienists, anesthesia technologists, surgical technologists, web developers and industrial mechanics.
“If we want to make our state a home for opportunity for working people and businesses, we have to get serious about closing the skills gap,” Whitmer said. “We know that the vast majority of careers in Michigan require some type of education beyond high school, but only 45% of Michiganders have this additional education. I set the state’s first goal to increase the number of people with a postsecondary degree or certificate to 60% by 2030 because everyone deserves a pathway to a high-paying job, and the Going PRO campaign will help us achieve this goal.”
Among other leaders participating in today’s press conference to launch the Going PRO campaign in Southeast Michigan were Ted Acting Director Stephanie Beckhorn; Detroit Regional Chamber CEO and President Sandy Baruah; SEIU Healthcare Michigan President Andrea Acevedo; and Wayne County Community College District Assistant to the Chancellor for Board and Public Relations Martha Grier.
“Going PRO is the right step toward making sure that Detroit – the city that put the world on wheels – is a place for opportunity where working people and businesses can thrive,” Duggan said. “By building a strong, skilled workforce, together we can improve the quality of life for every one of us, get people on the right track toward good-paying careers and establish Southeast Michigan communities as a great place to live, work and play.”
Approximately half of Michigan’s high school students, young adults and parents lack knowledge about the value and benefits that apprenticeships offer in Professional Trades, with only 13% of high school students considering apprenticeships a good career path option.
“There is incredible demand for educating and training skilled workers throughout our state, especially in the metro Detroit region,” Beckhorn said. “Together with our partners in the public and private sectors, we have a big job to do in helping employers fill this enormous talent pipeline in Professional Trades, mostly in the fields of construction, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, automotive and information technology.”
Leaders from organized labor who attended the event also endorsed the Going PRO campaign, including SEIU Healthcare Michigan, IBEW Local 58, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights and Operating Engineers Local 324.
“We applaud Gov. Whitmer and Ted for partnering with labor to encourage men and women who want good-paying jobs, with benefits and a pension, to take advantage of Professional Trades learning opportunities and apprenticeship programs that train the vast majority of skilled workers in the state,” Acevedo said.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to pursue a fulfilling career – whether it’s through a certificate in the Professional Trades, technical apprenticeship, community college or a four-year degree, said Furquan Ahmed, senior vice chancellor at Wayne County Community College District.
“At WCCCD we have more than 110 career programs designed specifically to meet the demands of today’s rapidly changing job market,” Ahmed said.
The Going PRO campaign directs students, their parents and influencers to Going-PRO.com, where they can find career pathways, salary information and job growth projections for these careers, along with training and education opportunities, said Beckhorn, who introduced six WCCCD students as examples of Professional Trades success stories:
- Dental hygiene program: Erika Camarena, 30, first year; Saleh Elmadari, 21, first year; Amanda Jones, 23, first year
- Anesthesia technology program: Jessica Porath, 22, second year; Kevin Yi, 24, first year
- Surgical technology program: Aaron Hensley, 34, first semester
“We plan to share more metro Detroit success stories as the Going PRO campaign moves forward to inspire more students and their families to explore Professional Trades,” Beckhorn said.
Michigan employers’ ability to find highly skilled and capable employees is more difficult than ever and is cited as a top concern in the most recent Michigan Future Business Index Report.
The Detroit chamber is among eight regional chambers of commerce – along with Lansing, Traverse City, Flint, Saginaw County, Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti, Southwest Michigan and Grand Rapids – that have announced their support for Going PRO and bringing more Professional Trades talent into the state’s workforce.
“Without sufficient workers with the skills employers need, businesses and regions like Detroit can’t stay competitive or drive growth,” Baruah said. “Going PRO will help shape the vision of Michigan as a national leader for its multifaceted, diverse and highly skilled workforce.”
Emerging technologies and retiring baby boomers have also led to a steady decline in the number of people with the skills needed to fill these viable careers. Ted-commissioned research shows:
- Interest in Professional Trades varies by region, with only 8% in Southeast Michigan saying they’ll pursue a training certificate.
- Only 4 in 10 students and young adults in Southeast Michigan say they’ve had meaningful conversations with their parents about Professional Trades, the lowest in the state.
More than 90% of Michigan residents between ages 15 and 64 will experience Going PRO messaging in 2019 through social media platforms; earned media coverage; digital, TV and outdoor advertising; public forums; and other grassroots activities.