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Labor and Economic Opportunity

Jackson-area leaders discuss opportunities to build stronger talent pipeline with Marshall Plan for Talent

Dan Olsen

517-290-7807 |

JACKSON, Mich. – Business and education leaders must work together to connect Michiganders with the more than 811,000 high-demand, high-wage careers available through 2024 and ensure students are prepared to become lifelong learners, Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan Director Roger Curtis said today as more than 100 business and education professionals gathered at Consumers Energy to discuss opportunities provided through the Marshall Plan for Talent.

As the Marshall Plan for Talent grant criteria is being finalized, state leaders are holding informational workshops around Michigan to help business and education leaders prepare to apply for the plan’s funds. Today’s participants discussed needs, potential barriers and partnerships needed to help form a talent consortium – a critical and necessary component in the application process.

“The Marshall Plan for Talent is a conduit for collaborations and innovations that revolutionize Michigan’s education and talent development system,” Curtis said. “The Jackson area is no stranger to these revolutionary partnerships that 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.

In 2015, Consumers Energy posted more than 100 skilled trade positions, had over 4,000 applicants and only 50 were qualified candidates. To help fill the demand, Consumers expanded two training partnerships for electric line workers with Lansing Community College and Alpena Community College. Today, these colleges are the primary source of entry-level electric line workers for the company – hiring more than 100 highly-skilled individuals from these programs in two years.

"In an increasingly technological 21st century workplace, it’s important business leaders work together with educators to help ensure students are prepared for the careers of today and the future,” said Consumers Energy President and CEO Patti Poppe. “The Marshall Plan is a great resource to build those partnerships and collaborations that will move the region and state forward with the best talent for businesses. It’s a win for our students, Michigan hometowns and employers.” 

“The Marshall Plan workshop presents an excellent opportunity for local business and educational leaders to continue the conversation around the urgency to close Michigan’s talent gap," Lansing Community College President Brent Knight said. "The initiative to develop a Talent Consortium is the collaborative effort needed to ensure that job seekers have the high demand skills necessary to fill available jobs in manufacturing and technology. This investment by the state of Michigan ensures that the Capital Region will remain innovative in its impact on technology.”

Michigan will have more than 811,000 career openings to fill through 2024, 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