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Labor and Economic Opportunity

Kalamazoo business and education leaders discuss state's talent gap, create innovative partnerships

Erica Quealy

517-582-2961 |

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Nearly 60 business and education leaders gathered in Kalamazoo today to begin building partnerships that will help move the region – and state – forward in developing high-demand talent for good-paying careers to close the state’s talent gap.

Participants at today’s Marshall Plan for Talent workshop, hosted by Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan (Ted), discussed talent needs, potential barriers and partnerships to help form consortia that will allow them to apply for Marshall Plan funds and revolutionize Michigan’s education and talent development system.

“Michigan grows stronger when leaders from all sectors work together to develop innovative solutions that move our state forward,” Ted Director Roger Curtis said. “Today’s workshop is about building partnerships and developing stronger collaborations to better prepare Michiganders for the high-demand, high-wage careers of today and the future.”

The Marshall Plan is an additional $100 million investment in innovative programs to revolutionize Michigan’s talent and education system. It supports schools that want to transform education through programs like competency-based certifications, world-class curricula and classroom equipment, scholarships and stipends, and support for career navigators and teachers. The funding complements the more than $225 million in existing talent development efforts in the state.

With more than 110,000 manufacturing career openings through 2024, local and statewide business leaders are excited to lead the innovation.

“The Marshall Plan for Talent will help inject $100 million to support innovative workforce development efforts and accelerate the creation of career tech programs while preparing students for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Mike Johnston, vice president of government affairs for the Michigan Manufacturers Association. “Manufacturers across Michigan are prioritizing increased career awareness and skilled trades training. The Marshall Plan for Talent can be a key resource to drive the development of long-term talent solutions.”

“As manufacturing opportunities continue to grow in Michigan and across the country, the need for high-skilled, high-talent roles will be significant,” Pfizer Drug Product Operations Director Janet Zlomek said. “The Marshall Plan consortia to create the right educational opportunities will be a key to prepare the manufacturing workforce for the future.” 

Education leaders share the sentiment.

“Being innovative in partnerships and collaboration is integral to Kalamazoo RESA's core values and how we prepare students for high-demand occupations,” Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Programming Deb Miller said. “The Marshall Plan will create opportunity to build transformative programs for our students — ultimately building a stronger talent pipeline.”

Through 2024, Michigan will have more than 811,000 career openings to fill in fields that are facing a critical talent shortage. As the state considers talent preparation changes for these fields, the greatest demand for talent will be in increasingly high-skill, high-tech fields such as in information technology and computer science, manufacturing, health care and other business and Professional Trades careers.

For more information about the Marshall Plan for Talent, visit