GRAND RAPIDS -- Calling it “one of the very most important things we really need to work on,” Gov. Rick Snyder today urged business leaders in West Michigan to work more closely with the public sector to cultivate the talent base needed now and in the future.
State government can play the role of a “clearinghouse and collaborator” for talent creation, Snyder said, but the private sector can join in by better defining and communicating the skills needed.
“As business people, you know the most critical thing for the long-term success of any enterprise is having the right talent, and the places in the world that have the best talent with the right skills are going to be the most successful,” Snyder said during a keynote address at the West Michigan Policy Forum in Grand Rapids. “My simple view of the world is we’re going to lead the world and North America in having the most talented people, and that’s more important that tax incentives or regulation or a whole bunch of other stuff.”
To make that happen, Snyder encouraged the private sector to step up and tell educators and the state what’s needed.
“We’re not getting the input enough yet from the private sector. We need to bring people together to talk about what’s required,” Snyder said. “We need much stronger collaboration with the private sector and we need much more participation from the private sector. We need much more leadership from the private sector.”
He suggested, for instance, that manufacturers connect more with local schools to conduct plant tours for students to introduce them and their parents to high-skills, high-paying jobs such as a machinist or mechanic and to help them understand what the job takes.
For too long, training programs have been created that “didn’t integrate things very well” and didn’t always meet the talent demand, Snyder said. Michigan also needs a work-force development system that is “much more seamless and integrated.”
By better collaborating with educators at all levels, businesses can help improve the supply-and-demand equation for talent, Snyder said.
He plans to convene a summit next April on education to “talk about the supply side” of talent and may precede that event in February or March with an economic summit on what skills are in demand in the economy.
“We need to have one chart where we place supply and demand together and create talent and connections through true collaborations,” Snyder said. “We need much more creativity that creates enough talent.”
Snyder praised the Talent 2025 initiative in Grand Rapids that brings the public and private sectors together on talent needs and said business leaders “need to take it to the next level.”