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News & Press: FOCUS

Developing the Talents of Tomorrow

Wednesday, September 6, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Eric Dimoff
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By Micki O’neil, Director of Public Relations and Communications, Ingham Intermediate School District

It's often said that the education arena and business world should work more closely together to develop and retain talent for our region. This statement couldn’t be truer, and those in both realms make a concerted effort to do just that: work together. In some cases, it isn’t as simple as it may seem, as both entities have different outcomes for which they are measured. More and more businesses are reaching out to educational groups, offering to become partners and advisors as they seek talent, and districts are taking them up on those offers. This is important because business partners help districts shape programming and curriculum choices to meet future industry needs.

Today, there is significant discussion around the importance of developing and retaining talent. Why does this matter? A report from the Center on Education and the Workforce out of Georgetown University states that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the economy will require post-secondary education and training beyond high school. In addition, there will be 24 million openings from newly created jobs, and 31 million openings due to baby boomer retirements. These statistics reinforce the need for educational agencies to focus on developing the talents of our youth, helping them to figure out the next step after high school and no longer making assumptions on where they will land. If 24 million openings will come from newly created jobs, we have to think differently.

Reflecting on the past in the education world, students were either prepared to go directly into the workforce or on to college. In other words, focusing on their final destination, rather than continuing to develop their talents to determine their next step in life. Most of us still remember this concept from our own high school experience, as students took wood shop, home economics, auto shop or worked on co-op. While some of these programs are still offered today, the programs have advanced significantly, especially due to changes in technology. Even though the education for these types of careers has changed, unfortunately, the perceptions have not. Today’s students can graduate from high school after attending a career and technical education program, with free college credit, industry-specific state and national certifications, even potentially an associate degree through early college programs at no cost to the student. These steps are all about developing a student’s talent area and helping them gain the credentials that are relevant to their future path, whatever that might look like.

For these reasons, Ingham Intermediate School District has made the shift to focusing on developing student talent through our career and technical education programs. In fact, we believe so much in this concept, that on August 30, we renamed the Capital Area Career Center the Wilson Talent Center, to better reflect that we are no longer just preparing students for careers, but developing their talents as they continue down their career paths. The days of focusing merely on placing students directly into the workforce are long gone. And while some students do enter the workforce right out of high school, nearly 80% of students who participated in career and technical educational programs last year plan to continue their education beyond high school. That may consist of an apprenticeship, an advanced industry certification, an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree, which aligns with business needs.

At the Wilson Talent Center, we educate students, through innovation, allowing them to accelerate their future. We hope you will look at education through a different lens and begin to see how business and education are working together on a broader scale to develop and retain talent in our region for years to come.

Click here to download the September issue of FOCUS.

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