Crain’s Custom Media

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Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series offering perspective from the candidates for governor on talent issues facing the region and the state. Crain’s Custom Media (a subsidiary of Crain’s Detroit Business), in partnership with the Workforce Intelligence Network, offered the same questions to both candidates.

Answers from Rick Snyder are posted here. Answers from Mark Schauer are listed below.

Q: There is a growing gap between the needs of employers and the training of the workforce. What is driving the skills gap in Michigan and how can the state government best play a role in fixing it?

Rick Snyder cut over $1 billion from education, including deep cuts to higher education. This makes it harder for our kids to get the skills they need to compete for high-wage, high-skill jobs. We should start by reversing Snyder’s education cuts, and investing in higher education and workforce training and development to ensure Michigan has a highly skilled workforce that can compete in the global economy.

Q: Regarding the skills gap, how does the government play a role in working with the education community, the private sector and the nonprofits to address the problem?

The state must do a better job of linking career and technical education, entrepreneurship, and job training to middle and high school students and employers. As governor, I’ll establish a “Learn and Earn” program that brings labor, faith, community colleges and public schools together to identify and train young workers, so they can get the skills they need to compete for good-paying jobs in fields like construction and manufacturing.

Q: Employers need skilled workers now, both in terms of new hires but also their existing workforce. What policies and investments could help train workers looking for jobs who do not currently have the skills employers need at the moment?

Our community colleges do a great job of providing workers with the skills they need to compete for good jobs, but unfortunately, they faced big budget cuts under this governor. We need to make sure our community colleges have the resources they need to help retrain workers who’ve lost a job, and help build the next generation of workers, innovators and job creators.

Q: What policies and investments could help employers grow the skills of their current workforce, given constant and rapid shifts in technology and the economy?

As governor, I’ll establish a Michigan Innovation Hub that will combine the R&D power of our universities and our major corporations to focus on the technologies with the greatest ability to create high-tech jobs.

Q: Are our K-12 schools, higher education systems and vocational schools doing enough right now to train the workforce of tomorrow? If not, what do they need to be successful?

Again, this governor cut over $1 billion from education. Our schools, colleges and vocational schools have been forced to do more with less under this governor. The best skills training programs start in preschool. As governor, I’ll improve school readiness by putting the state on a path to universal preschool and ensuring that all students have access to community-based wraparound services before and after school that address barriers to learning.

Q: In addition to the items listed in the answers above, how else do you see your administration playing a role in helping to craft a Michigan workforce that is prepared for the needs of our innovative employers?

I’ll work to attract talented workers by amending the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act to prevent LGBT discrimination, and make Michigan a marriage equality state. This will help Michigan attract and retain highly-skilled young workers, who are choosing to live in other states that are more welcoming to the LGBT community.



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