Energizing Michigan's Jobs Market

Contact: Martin Ackley, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs 517-335-6649
Agency: Education

March 15, 2016

LANSING – As the energy industry faces a future workforce shortage, Michigan students now have an official blueprint for learning the skills required to fill jobs in that sector, under new energy-content standards.

“The energy-content standards are designed to close a skills gap and open a pipeline to good, high-paying jobs in the energy sector, which is a win-win for students entering the jobs market and for energy companies seeking skilled workers,” State Superintendent Brian Whiston said today. “I applaud the State Board of Education and the state industry-government partnership for helping make Michigan one of eight states to add subject-level standards for energy.”

Known as the Energy Cluster in career and technical education (CTE), the standards were approved by the State Board of Education (SBE) after several months of collaboration with the Michigan Energy Workforce Development Consortium (MEWDC). The group founded by DTE Energy and Consumers Energy includes more than 30 representatives from industry, workforce, labor, education, state government, and veterans’ organizations.

DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, representing more than 80 percent of the state’s utility workforce, has identified an upcoming demand for a skilled energy utility workforce, resulting from a rash of retirements expected over the next decade.

The Energy Cluster is the 17th cluster, or set of subject-level, career-focused standards, in the National Career Clusters®Framework for delivering CTE programs in schools.  The SBE approved the earlier career clusters as part of Michigan’s overarching CTE standards in 2009. 

The Energy Cluster uses energy industry content standards developed by the Center for Workforce Development (CEWD), a non-profit consortium of energy utilities and organizations representing more than 90 percent of the U.S. skilled energy workforce. 

The CEWD’s standards are based on an energy competency model that defines successful performance in energy-sector jobs.

“Including the energy industry as a focus area for Michigan students to consider, while pursing secondary education, puts our state at the forefront of closing the skills gap for critical, in-demand industry jobs,” said Patty Cantú, Director of MDE’s Office of Career and Technical Education. “The addition of an energy cluster provides a direct pathway to both industry jobs and postsecondary programs where students can earn a certificate or degree.”

The MEWDC is one of seven regional partners participating in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s (USCC) Talent Pipeline Management initiative. It strives to close an existing energy sector skills gap nationwide.

The MEWDC received a $90,000 grant from the USCC’s Foundation in 2015 to participate in the initiative, which, among other things, plans to identify and solidify partnerships at the secondary and postsecondary education levels in Consumers Energy and DTE Energy service areas.

Ten community colleges across the state were selected as initial partners. They will work with the MEWDC to embed an energy curriculum into their class offerings, so students can earn industry-recognized credentials that are transferrable among the colleges.

The career clusters are available at http://www.careertech.org/career-clusters, and the energy content standards are here:http://www.cewd.org/curriculum/downloads/Energy%20Competency%20Model%20September%202010.pdf.