There’s good news and bad news regarding Michigan’s significant shortage of skilled workers in the trades.
First the bad news: The Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development predicted 545,000 skilled trades jobs will be created through 2026, primarily in the fields of construction, manufacturing, health care, automotive and information technology. Finding highly skilled employees, however, is harder than ever for Michigan businesses, according to a 2019 survey by the Associated General Contractors of America.
The good news: The number of Michigan students completing career and technical education – or CTE – programs has increased more than 75% during the past four years, steering graduates to in-demand jobs that pay good wages, according to the Michigan Department of Education.
The number of students completing CTE programs has grown from just over 27,000 in 2014-15 to 47,314 in 2018-19, according to the education department. A completer, as they are called, is a student who successfully finishes courses covering all of the career and technical standards in a state-approved program and has taken a required technical skills assessment for that program.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said everyone in Michigan deserves a path to a job that pays enough to support their families, according to a news release from her office.
“This progress is great news for our families, our businesses and our economy,” Whitmer said in response to the growth in CTE program completion.
“Earlier this year, I announced a plan to reach 60% of Michiganders with a postsecondary degree or certification by 2030,” Whitmer said in the release. “To reach that goal, we must continue to ensure people across the state have access to great CTE programs that can prepare them for future success. I’m proud of the work we’ve done, and I’m ready to continue working with everyone who wants to help us take more steps toward 60%.”
Michigan’s State Superintendent Michael Rice shared the governor’s delight regarding the number of completers.
“More students are finding their path and accomplishing their goals through our expanding career and technical education programs,” Rice said. “The growth is exciting and encouraging as we continue to build on our educational progress.”
CTE student enrollment also has seen growth from 104,038 students in the 2014-15 school year to 110,506 in 2018-19, representing 23.4% of the state’s students in grades nine through 12. The number of CTE programs offered to students has exceeded 18% growth over the past four years, from 1,754 to 2,078.
CTE programs are offered in career clusters, or specific areas of career focus. The career clusters with the most students enrolled in the 2018-19 school year were marketing, sales and service (14,258 students); business, management and administration (12,678 students); health science (12,071 students); and information technology (9,822 students), according to the release.