Coalition of Business, Military, Law Enforcement and Education Leaders Urge Legislative Support to Grow Talent in Michigan

Leaders calling for legislative action to increase number of Michigan residents attaining education beyond high school for the jobs of tomorrow

Sept. 25, 2018 - LANSING, Mich. - Business, military, law enforcement, higher education and government leaders today called for greater investment in education beyond high school to equip Michigan residents with the skills and credentials needed to fill the state’s talent gap.

The report, Total Talent: Equipping All Michiganders with the Education and Skills Needed for Success in the Economy of Today and Tomorrow, was released today by the Michigan Higher Education Attainment Roundtable (MIHEART) to urge the incoming Legislature and the next Governor to make talent attainment a top public policy priority.

The “Total Talent” report can be downloaded at

“Progress has been made, but Michigan still has work to do if we want to keep a competitive edge when it comes to filling the need for talent”, said Sandy Baruah, President and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “The time has come to provide all Michiganders 21st century skills to fill the job needs of tomorrow.”

The report states in detail that while Michigan has increased its rate of postsecondary credential attainment to almost 44 percent of the population, states and communities with higher rates are reaping greater economic gains in the form of creating new jobs and attracting new employers. Talent attainment and education beyond high school affect employers, law enforcement and the military.

"Our nation’s military also faces a skills gap. Today, more than half of young Michiganders are ineligible to serve partly due to poor academics. By 2025, over 60 percent of Michigan jobs will require some type of postsecondary degree or credential,” said Major General (Ret.) Thomas G. Cutler, USAF. “Michigan has considerable work to do to ensure it can field this well-qualified workforce."

"We partner with and rely on our community colleges and universities to provide the quality officers we depend on and to update the skills and abilities of our talent pool,” said Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth, Ingham County Sheriff’s Department.

The report notes that Michigan has shifted the burden of paying for postsecondary education onto the backs of students and families and now has one of the highest share of higher education costs being borne by students and families – sixth highest in the nation. Michigan also has more workers (more than 20 percent) than almost every state already on the job with only a high school diploma— workers at high risk of seeing their occupations disappear.

To close the talent gap, MIHEART recommendations from the report include:

• Significantly increase need-based state financial aid to make education past high school accessible and affordable
• More aggressive state outreach and financial support for 20 percent of Michigan workers already in the labor market with some college but no degree
• Improve career/college awareness, counseling and advising at high school and college levels
• Enhance collaboration between K-12 and higher education institutions to improve alignment and acceptance of credit in rigorous academic areas
• Improve transfer and credit acceptance between various higher education institutions for seamless learning and credential earning
• Increase high school student participation in all forms of powerful and cost-saving early postsecondary credit-earning programs (dual enrollment, Early/Middle Colleges, Career Technical Education (CTE) and AP/IB course taking)

The report highlights the significant progress made by Michigan’s public and independent colleges and universities to cut costs and improve access to education beyond high school by ensuring students successfully complete degree and certification programs.

“A thriving education system is an essential building block to a strong economy, and a high school diploma is not enough to succeed in today’s world,” said Michael Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association. “A postsecondary credential like a college degree or occupational certificate is a must. Postsecondary credentials translate to higher incomes, better job prospects and a stronger statewide economy. We support any policies that promote and support life-long learning.”

Despite these efforts, affording education is a responsibility—once shouldered by the State of Michigan —that often falls on the backs of Michigan’s families. Michigan is now ranked as one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to financial support for students seeking to pursue education beyond high school.

“One of the biggest barriers to education beyond high school is perceived affordability and the lack of guidance to access, navigate, and succeed in Michigan’s knowledge economy,” said Brandy Johnson, MCAN executive director. “Many workers today are seeing automation and a fast-paced work world rapidly changing. By increasing access to these programs and expanding opportunities for students, we can help them tackle the intimidating process of pursuing a degree or certificate beyond high school.”

Total Talent: Equipping All Michiganders with the Education and Skills Needed for Success in the Economy of Today and Tomorrow was prepared by the Michigan Higher Education Attainment Roundtable. The report brought together the public and independent colleges and universities, Business Leaders for Michigan, the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan College Access Network, the Governor’s office, and community and regional K-12 education, higher education and workforce leaders. The workgroup was facilitated by John Austin, and supported with funding from The Kresge Foundation, Michigan College Access Network and National College Access Network.

The Michigan Higher Education Roundtable (MIHEART) is comprised of business, military, law enforcement, K-12 education, higher education and government leaders passionate about increasing and retaining talent in Michigan, including:

• Nancy Fishman, the Council for Strong America
• Nancy Moody, DTE Energy
• Major General (Ret.) Tom Cutler, USAF
• Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth, Ingham County Sherriff’s Office
• Brandy Johnson, Michigan College Access Network
• John Austin, former President, Michigan State Board of Education
• Tim Sowton, Business Leaders for Michigan
• Robert Lefevre and Colby Cesaro, Michigan Independent Colleges & Universities
• Tim Sowton, Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM)
• Caroline Altman Smith, The Kresge Foundation
• Chris Wigent, Michigan Association of School Administrators (MASA)
• Wendy Zdeb, Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals
• Michael Hansen and Erica Orians, Michigan Community College Association (MCCA) – Michigan
Center for Student Success (MCSS)
• Brian Pyles and Jill Kroll Michigan Department of Education (MDE)
• Roger Curtis and Mary Lynn Noah, Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development
• Tyler Sawher, Office of Governor Snyder
• Dan Hurley, Bob Murphy and Will Emerson, Michigan Association of State Universities
• Bill Miller, Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA)
• Greg Handel, Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce
• Kevin Stotts, Talent 2025


Media Contact: Brandy Johnson
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: 602.502.1618

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