While 70 percent of southeast Michigan residents would encourage a friend or family member to pursue an education path that leads to a career in skilled trades, most agree that area schools aren’t doing enough to expose students to such careers, says a recent survey sponsored by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition.
On a scale from 1 to 10, survey respondents gave the public education system a 4.5 for exposing students to skilled-trade careers, and a 4.8 for encouraging students to pursue technical education programs that lead to industry certificates and/or associate’s degrees.
“Clearly, there is more work to do in raising the awareness of technical and skilled trades careers in southeast Michigan,” says Paul E. Tait, executive director of SEMCOG and president of MAC. “We need to educate students and re-educate adults for the jobs that exist, as well as provide educational opportunities for the jobs of the future.”
While respondents gave relatively strong marks to schools for encouraging interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) career paths, they felt there could be done to expose students to a wider range of careers, along with helping students make the appropriate career choices.
According to SEMCOG officials, one of the most significant workforce challenges facing the region is the lack of a technical and skilled trades employment pipeline.
“Twenty-seven percent of graduating high school students have the capacity to pursue STEM subjects in college, but have no interest in STEM careers,” says Gregory Ioanidis, a SEMCOG board member. “There is a perception that STEM and skilled trades careers are unattractive. These careers need to be promoted as interesting, challenging, and rewarding positions to young people today. Addressing this challenge is critical to the economic stability and growth of southeast Michigan.”
To read the full survey results, click here.