June 14, 2022 | Employer Talent Pipeline news from around the region
Marshall Plan updates, Four Years Later – The Coleman Regional Competency and Talent Pipeline Consortium
The Marshall Plan for Talent was signed into law on June 26, 2018, to improve the State of Michigan’s talent pool. The Plan’s intention was to invest funds to create, expand and support both educators and businesses who create innovative programs for high-demand, high-wage careers. Grant awardees submitted 5-year action plans to foster business and education collaboration, evolve to a competency-based learning model, support workforce planning, and increase career awareness and exploration. 

How is this effort going and how to get more involved:
As part of The Marshall Plan funding, the Coleman Regional Career Competency and Talent Pipeline Consortium -- which includes the Midland County Educational Service Agency, Beaverton Rural Schools and Coleman Community Schools -- was awarded a $469,886 grant. The consortium also features 16 area businesses, postsecondary and community partners.

Curriculum was a first step and that has been written and put into place. For Beaverton, with Michigan Works! Region 7B as a close grant partner, Career Navigators for Gladwin and Clare county schools were among the first hired in the region. Michigan Works! Region 7B made a very strong commitment to the Career Navigator concept and today they have an ambitious goal of a Career Navigator in every school district. 

Business support for this partnership was highly evident at a recent Mock Interview Day in Gladwin. Sandy Russell, Gladwin’s Career Navigator, worked collaboratively with the high school English department and to gain business participation and the event brought in a wide variety of participating professionals. Other district Career Navigators would like to have more business contacts and partners for school career projects such as the MiCareerQuest Middle Michigan event in October. To be connected with a Career Navigator please contact Carol McCaul, Employer Talent Pipeline Lead, at cmmcaulsps@gmail.com

Plastics Machining in Beaverton
Beaverton’s ultimate goal with the Marshall Plan grant was to equip a plastics machining lab for students to learn hands-on about the process of thermoforming. As a culminating project, and in collaboration with Colemans’s Agricultural program, plastic plant containers and food storage products would be designed and produced. Currently, students are working to earn OSHA Safety and Precision Measurement industry-recognized certifications in the classroom. They are performing CAD and 3D Printer work with new equipment in the classroom, which eventually will be moved to the lab.

Mike Bassage, Beaverton Junior/High School Principal, reports a project worth noting to produce a smooth pipeline from classroom to work is in development with local manufactures. Working with Brown Machine, Beaverton High School and Mid Michigan College are developing workplace specific certifications for students to be workplace-ready in short amount of time and minimal investment. This certification is available at no cost to students and positions them for immediate job placement as a result of following the new pipeline project.

Grant funds, local business donations, and a recent large thermoformer donation from Mid Michigan College has Beaverton High School very close to lab completion. Thanks to significant input from Ed Wark of E & D Engineering Systems and consultation from businesses including Brown Machine Group, St. Gobain and Modern Machinery, students will now be able to have hands-on education opportunities with the lab. 

As the lab begins full operations in the fall, business support, knowledge sharing and lab supervision will be extremely helpful. Businesses can contribute with continued collaboration and commitment to the project and any organization that would like to add knowledge, time, equipment, supplies, or other support to these efforts should contact Mike Bassage at mbassage@beavertonschools.net or Ed Wark at ed@edengsys.com .

Coleman + Beaverton Collaboration
Coleman and Beaverton are working to collaborate by sending students back and forth between the Agricultural Lab at Coleman and the Machining Lab at Beaverton is part of the grant plan to address high interest and provide more opportunities to students from both schools. Beaverton sends students to Coleman this school year for the Ag Program and hopes to be ready to accept Coleman students in their Thermoforming Lab next year. 

However, transportation has been a barrier for some students who would like to participate in a neighboring school’s program. Any business that would like to help with solutions to the transportation problem to include more students in these programs is encouraged to contact Mike at mbassage@beavertonschools.net.

Coleman schools operates a highly successful agricultural program and more information on that program can be found at Agriscience | Coleman Community Schools (colemanschools.net)

Marie Zwemmer, Coleman Regional Agriscience Center Instructor/FFA Advisor, shares many success stories including the production of 300 hanging baskets per year, 300 boiler chickens, and hydroponic vegetables. The program has forestry equipment purchased and a forestry management plan in production. Students have earned 1 American FFA degree, 8 Michigan FFA degrees, and many other degrees and certifications. Coleman's plan for this program for 2022-2023 includes having more industry professionals share their career path stories, as well as current opportunities for students to consider. 

Anyone with knowledge to share with students are encouraged to contact Marie Zwemmer at mzwemmer@colemanschools.net, 989-465-6171 x 2700. 

Coleman students also participated in a spring career fair partnering with Meridian Schools. Businesses interested in making student and career-related contacts at future events can get more information from Don Johnson, Career and Technical Education Coordinator, at DJOHNSON@MIDLANDESA.ORG or one of the Career Development Professionals found at MIDLAND COUNTY CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION | Midland County ESA (midlandesa.org)
Agriculture – Keeping Pace Through Upskilling
“In 1900, 42 percent of the U.S. population lived on farms; by 1990 that number had dwindled to less than 2 percent.” (“A Family Farm: Life on an Illinois Dairy Farm.” Robert L. Switzer, 2021) 

However, the need for food production has only increased with global population. These changes have occurred largely as a result of economic and technological changes made possible by the aggressively optimistic borrowing, investing and expansion that some farmers were willing to embrace in the latter half of the 20th century, a practice that continues today. Yet, many farmers who saw the economic catastrophe in the 1920s and ’30s were unwilling to take on new big risks, and their farms generally gave way to the forces favoring consolidation and the mass-production of agricultural commodities.

Today’s farmer needs to manage land and soil, government regulation and subsidies, animals, technology, equipment, chemicals, people, data, and opportunity on a scale never seen before in agriculture. This requires a dynamic skillset and education never seen before, as well.  

Technology has been the biggest game-changer but has also produced some of the biggest challenges. As with every other industry, the lack of skilled people is also inspiring intense critical thinking and problem solving for local farmers.

Cathy McCune, president of the Isabella County Farm Bureau, shares that agriculture is in an exciting time but also an incredibly challenging time. “Farming has become such a technology-based operation. We have multi-million dollar farmers who are weighed down by regulations and lack of service to the computer-operated implements they purchase. We need more students to go into agribusiness and agriscience to support the demands that will be coming in the future. From the science of how to get the cereal in the box, to the marketing of the box to consumers, there is a place at the table for anyone who chooses to pursue a career in agriculture.”

But how can we motivate and share the wide range of opportunities in agriculture with young students as they become faced with career making decisions in middle and early high school? Educators can appeal to their brains which are already stimulated by anything technology. Robotics and drone technologies are high-interest activities for students and the career opportunities for educated individuals spans across many industries. Integrating robotics and/or drone training into middle and high school courses benefits students by putting a drive behind their education and benefits various industries with a better-prepared workforce.

Milking the cows is now a robotic process for large-scale operations, and farmers can monitor production from a handheld tablet. Kristi Keilen, a fourth generation dairy farmer at K&K Dairy near Westphalia, switched her dairy operation from a traditional parlor, to putting in robots in the last few months. Keilen was having trouble securing competent help and felt that robots were the answer. Thus, they built a new milking facility and are learning as they go.  This concept of investing in robotics up front to compensate for a lack of available employees is reflected across industries such as manufacturing and construction. 

Mid Michigan College has a very active, short-term training course for drones. Any individual or business who would like to know more about upskilling with drone technologies can find out more at Drone Piloting | Mid Michigan College.  Educators interested in a classroom demonstration or speaker can contact Short-Term Training at (989) 386-6614.

Any business or educator that would like more information or help making contacts to share opportunities with current agricultural businesses or students can contact Carol McCaul, Employer Talent Pipeline Lead, at cmccaulsps@gmail.com or 989-289-9849.
People, Planet, Prosperity welcomes leading international thought leaders in STEM to the GLBR June 20-22!
More than 400 of the world’s top leaders and thinkers in STEM will come to Bay City in the heart of the Great Lakes Bay Region from June 20 to June 22 for the convening of the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice.
Louie Lopez, director of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense, is among the kickoff speakers set to discuss how STEM is vital for the future of the world. Other regional speakers include: Andre Argenton, vice president, EH&S and chief sustainability officer at Dow and Linda Hilbert, executive director of Environmental and Sustainability at Consumers Energy. Kari Byron of EXPLR Media and Mythbusters and Paula Golden of the Broadcom Foundation are also among the national speakers featured.
In addition to main stage sessions, the convening also includes field trips, workshops and experiential learning opportunities to empower leaders with tools and strategies for how to support STEM in their own communities, with a focus on the event’s theme – People, Planet, Prosperity.

People, Planet, Prosperity will showcase strategies for empowering and engaging the next generation to solve the many challenges facing the world. The event will feature engaging field trips at six local STEM locations in the Great Lakes Bay Region including: Bay Arenac ISD Career Center, Chippewa Nature Center, Delta College, Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum, Nexteer Automotive and Saginaw Valley State University.

People, Planet, Prosperity, which is now at full capacity with 400+ attendees, marks the first in-person gathering of the 100-community initiative, since March 2020.
“The energy and excitement for this convening is off-the-charts. The need for our world’s STEM leaders to come together, learn together and work together has never been greater,” said Jan Morrison, founder and chief executive officer of TIES.
TIES, which helped found the 8-year-old SLECoP, continues to serve as its backbone organization and has been instrumental in the growth of the initiative to its current size of 100 connected Ecosystems serving an estimated 40 million students worldwide. Forming STEM Learning Ecosystems was listed as the top priority for communities by the U.S. Office of Science, Technology Policy.
Matthew Felan, president and CEO of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance and SLECoP community member, who has partnered with TIES to host and plan the convening, said, “As this year’s conference host, we are humbled and honored to welcome STEM leaders from as far as Israel and Kenya, many of which are thought leaders guiding STEM advancement for entire nations. Ideas from People, Planet, Prosperity will go on to set the tone and priorities for our future and output from these sessions will guide federal funding and policy agendas for government bodies like the Department of Education and the Department of Defense. People, Planet, Prosperity is vitally important, because we are seeing unprecedented challenges in education, life and work. What we know is that this community has a unique perch for working together to bring needed change.”
Other convening highlights include:
  • Engagement with leaders working on education policy to inform and strategize the best ways to maximize public dollars for thriving communities.
  • A field trip to Nexteer Automotive to learn how LIFT, a Detroit-based research and learning lab, Saginaw Intermediate School District, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and SACA are implementing programs to prepare the workforce for the fourth industrial revolution including robotics, flexible manufacturing and artificial intelligence applications.
  • More than 30 high school students from across the country, who have become Chief Science Officers, will be working with Ecosystem leaders throughout the convening, challenging them to think about how their work will impact the next generation.

Launched in 2014 as one of the first 25 STEM Ecosystems around the world, the Great Lakes Bay STEM Ecosystem is made up of more than 500 partners and has impacted hundreds of thousands of kids through a vast number of programs, activities and events since inception.
“We are honored to sponsor and present at People, Planet, Prosperity in support of next-generation STEM efforts in our region and beyond,” said Kelley Peatross, regional director of Community and Public Affairs at Consumers Energy. “STEM is part of the foundation of what we do and Consumers Energy operates with a triple bottom line that is completely in step with each of the three pillars of this convening. Doing business with a mindset of focusing on people, planet and prosperity means we can help build Michigan’s sustainable future.”
Chief Science Officer + Employer Talent Pipeline Spotlight
The Great Lakes Bay Region Alliance is working to connect with students from the Chief Science Officer (CSO) Program to help fuel the talent pipeline. There is tremendous benefit in linking employers in the region to our future workforce through students with STEM interests and aptitude. As students are looking to focus on a particular area of study in college or for a career choice after college, development tools like internships, mentoring, job shadows, and site tours provide valuable context to both students and employers. 

In support of this effort, over the course of the summer into the fall, we will be putting together and sending out CSO Spotlights to highlight these amazing students and connect STEM talent to opportunities in the region via the Employer Talent Pipeline newsletter. Within these CSO Spotlights will be an overview of the student's background, interests and skills, opportunities desired, and past work experience to help you decide whether their interests and skills will fit what your organization has to offer. 

About the Chief Science Officer Program
The Chief Science Officer Program began five years ago here in the GLBR and has provided an amazing opportunity for students in the region to not only experience STEM, but begin to educate others about it. As CSO’s, these STEM Ambassadors advocate for STEM learning and work with their team to complete an action plan within their school or community. 

Our CSOs have done some extraordinary things including: 

  • Hosting flight nights with Jack Barstow Airport; 
  • Sending STEM Kits to Africa; and 
  • Putting together Teen Science Cafes for other students to become involved in STEM

These action plans and consistent participation in STEM learning have helped shape these young minds to take on and conquer anything in their way. The CSO Program has helped students develop into vocal STEM leaders, as well as helped build their communication, teamwork, time-management, and creative skills needed for the future.

CSO Spotlight: Ty Jarvis
Our first CSO Spotlight will be on CSO Alumni Ty Jarvis. Ty was a part of the CSO Program for two years and just finished up his first year at Saginaw Valley State University. Ty is undecided at the moment, but is very interested in nature, wildlife, and working with kids. Ty’s availability is open from the winter onward and is willing to participate in any role offered. His profile will be attached at the end of this message followed by a new CSO Spotlight every two weeks. 

We hope you take the time and enjoy reading about the future of STEM talent in the GLBR and maybe even find your next employee right here in your backyard!

If you’re interested in learning more about the CSO Program, below are a few articles about some of the amazing things a few of the students have done.

Other articles highlighting CSOs:

View more about Ty Jarvis, the first CSO Spotlight here