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Granholm Tells Higher Education Commission Michigan Must Meet Global Challenge

July 14, 2004

LANSING - In opening remarks to the Lieutenant Governor's Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm said that Michigan faces competition in educational achievement from other countries that could stop the state from winning the global competition for jobs.

The Lieutenant Governor's Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth
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"The global economy will not wait for us to adapt - we must adapt to it or watch it pass us by," Granholm said. "Increasing the educational attainment of our workforce is a social and economic imperative if we are to create new jobs and grow the economy in our state."

Granholm said that only 22 percent of Michigan citizens have a post-secondary degree or certificate. The goal of the Commission is to double the number of citizens with a post-secondary degree.

"To compete in a global economy, a post-secondary degree or certificate is no longer an option - it's essential," Granholm said.

Lieutenant Governor John D. Cherry Jr., who is chairing the Commission, said that Michigan's economy is undergoing a structural shift that focuses more on technology and knowledge-based jobs, making it crucial that citizens continue their education beyond high school.

"Our need for strong backs is being replaced by our need for strong minds," Cherry said. "This Commission will focus on preparing students for college, making sure they complete their degrees, and how we can maximize the impact of a highly educated workforce on our economy."

Two-thirds of the jobs created in the next 10 years will require post-secondary education or training. The Commission's work is imperative to the state's economic well-being, Cherry said.

"Doubling the percentage of citizens with a post-secondary education will drive our state to higher levels of economic growth," Cherry said. "Today's jobs require more knowledge and skill than the jobs of 30 years ago. It is critical to our state's future that students enroll in college, finish their program, and enter their career field in Michigan."

At today's meeting, chairs were designated to lead four work groups that will study issue areas during the remainder of the summer. The chairs are:

  • Mary Sue Coleman of Ann Arbor, president of the University of Michigan, will lead the group studying Maximizing Economic Benefits.
  • Daniel DeGrow of Port Huron, superintendent of the St. Clair County Intermediate School District, will lead the group studying Increasing Degree Completion.
  • Debbie Dingell of Dearborn, vice chair of the GM Foundation and executive director of Government and Community Relations, will lead the group studying Improving Preparation.
  • Paul Massaron of Southfield, owner of PEM Consulting, will lead the group studying Expanding Participation.

The work groups will meet over the next several weeks, and the Commission will begin statewide public hearings as a whole in September.