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Labor and Economic Opportunity

Michigan students to unwrap gift of career exploration this December

Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018

Erica Quealy
517-582-2961 |

LANSING, Mich. – Arguably one of the most undervalued gifts this holiday season is the gift of career exploration. Its return on investment pays dividends in future career success and a stronger, more resilient economy.

As Michigan high school students wrap up the first half of the school year and head home for winter break, state leaders are dubbing December Michigan Career Exploration and Awareness Month to ignite conversations around career options and pathways between students and their families.

“It’s important students explore careers early and often,” Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan Interim Director Jeremy Hendges said. “This month is about highlighting the array of resources and opportunities to explore careers before students graduate from high school. But more than that, it’s an opportunity to bring those conversations about career exploration home from the classroom to the holiday dinner table so families and friends can share their experiences with their students, too.”

With more than 811,000 career openings across the state through 2024, Michigan is working to close the talent gap. State leaders believe that talent gap stems from a career awareness gap and counselors, educators, employers and parents all have a role in helping Michigan’s young people explore the hundreds of thousands of high-demand, high-wage careers available in the Great Lakes State.

“Too often, students leave high school without a plan for what’s next and are doing their career exploration in college,” Hendges added. “The more we can help students explore these opportunities earlier, the sooner we can close our talent gap and connect our young people with rewarding, great-paying careers here at home.”

As the state works to close the talent gap spanning Michigan, it has developed two state-of-the-art and first-of-its-kind online resources to help students and job seekers alike explore careers and the pathways to them.

Overhauled this fall, is now a one-stop online tool that provides students and all Michiganders with information on the state’s most high-demand, high-wage career opportunities in the Professional Trades, including salaries and job growth data, ‘A Day in the Life’ series that highlights professionals in their careers and how they got there, and local schools and training facilities to get started in a Professional Trades career.

Additionally, students can roadmap their career path with the state’s Pathfinder tool that allows students to pick a career field and see, all at once, how to get there from training to full-time career.

State leaders say there are multiple paths to great careers in Michigan and the four-year degree isn’t the only options, albeit a good one.

“There are many career choices and pathways to those options, including stackable credentials, certificates and degrees,” said Michigan’s Interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles. “Success comes in many forms and it’s a priority for us to help every student find and achieve their own success. To do that, we first must help them explore all the options, and that’s what this month’s focus is about.”

Alles added it’s important to remember that parents have a role in this process, too, and it’s pivotal for them to talk with their kids at home and with their counselors and teachers about their career-path options.

This month’s observance comes as the state prepares to award its first round of Marshall Plan for Talent grants in early December, which include $10.5 million in funding for career navigators to help students with career exploration and develop meaningful learning plans to guide them.

Learn more about Career Exploration and Awareness month at