Lansing State Journal. Feb. 13.
Education is vital to Michigan's future
Some statistics that don't get enough attention across Michigan:
— Currently, only 37 percent of Michiganders have education beyond high school.
— By 2020, 70 percent of jobs here will require some education beyond high school.
That is just five years from now, folks.
So while it was heartening to see Gov. Rick Snyder's new budget proposal supporting education at all levels with funding increases, it's clear Michigan has more to do to change its culture on education.
This is not a problem the state has failed to see coming. Greater Lansing has supported a "Keep Learning" campaign urging the region's residents to continue pursuing education throughout their working years. It urges people to reach one step higher. That means high school dropouts should push for a GED. High school graduates should pursue vocational training or community college, or a four-year degree. Those with some secondary education should consider completing a degree that was started or pursuing a master's or doctorate degree.
Such a focus would bolster the entire region by creating a more educated work force. And those educated workers will help draw businesses to the region.
Business Leaders for Michigan, a roundtable of the state's major employers, has put considerable effort into advocating for education and studying the performance of the state's public universities. So just as Gov. Snyder released his budget proposal last week, BLM released its latest effort to bring attention to education. In addition to the statistics mentioned above, BLM notes that Michigan ranks 31st among the states for attainment of at least an associate's degree. Not coincidentally, the state ranked 36th for per capita personal income.
BLM officials note that without more focus on education, Michigan won't attract or keep the employers it needs to boost personal income. And there is a payoff for putting in the effort. Those with a bachelor's degree collect salaries that are on average twice the salaries of high school graduates. Having at least some college can mean salaries on average 22 percent higher.
Gov. Snyder's budget calls for a 2 percent increase in university funding and 1.4 percent for community colleges. At the K-12 level, it included a $75 per pupil increase.
But this isn't just about money. Michiganders as a group need to place more importance on education. Finishing high school is not enough. From technical training to an advanced degree, more education will assure the state's prosperity and that of its residents.
The Mining Journal (Marquette). Feb. 18.
Veterans are great bets for employment
The veteran unemployment rate in Michigan in 2013 was 10.6 percent, the second highest rate in the U.S.
That dubious distinction is nothing to be proud of, but hopefully, a new effort by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency will change that.
The agency has created programs to bring together veteran talent and employers. It prepares vets for a career outside the military through interviewing skills and resume building — skills that already are just a standard part of high school and college seniors waiting to enter the workforce.
Veterans have many skills learned in the military that can be translated into the "real world." Why couldn't a mechanic trained to work on complicated aircraft find a mechanic job after he or she returns home? What about simple leadership skills? Can't they be translated into a management job as well?
When veterans with the proper training in an area want to work in that field, the agency provides aid similar to vets returning to civilian life as students. Lansing Community College's military medic-to-paramedic is one example of a veteran fast-track program.
The vets-to-work situation, though, cuts both ways. The agency also educates employers on how to hire vet talent.
The classic 1946 film, "The Best Years of Our Lives" depicted the struggles returning vets have in finding employment, or if they do find employment, the struggles they face.
Were the resources now available to vets offered then, perhaps those fictional — and, of course, non-fictional people — wouldn't have had to face those difficulties.
The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency's website has links to many resources and can be found at http://www.michiganveterans.com. Veterans — or even families and friends of veterans — should take a look to see how those coming home from the service or a tour of duty can better assimilate in the working world.
That would benefit everyone.
Grand Haven Tribune. Feb. 18.
Governor has right idea in funding trades training
A lot of kids simply aren't cut out for college. So why should our high schools treat all kids the same?
That's why we're excited about the recent news that Gov. Rick Snyder will ask Michigan lawmakers for a 75 percent increase in funding for skilled-trades training and career technical education in his budget proposal for the new fiscal year.
In years past, the kids who excelled in the classroom would embark on a college prep path in high school. Those who were better working with their hands instead focused their studies on other types of classes, such as woodshop or metal shop, or a tech center where they can learn valuable skills that will put them in demand upon graduation.
Unfortunately, budget cuts have forced many schools to make drastic cuts in shop classes. As a result, there's a serious shortage of skilled tradesmen entering the workplace each year.
Forbes published an article last year claiming that the skilled trades — welders, electricians and mechanists — are becoming increasingly difficult to find as many in that field are nearing the end of their career.
In 2012, 53 percent of skilled-trade workers in the U.S. were age 56 or older, and nearly 20 percent were nearing retirement age, between 55 and 64.
While times are changing — drastically — in the fields of science and technology, there's still a big demand for those hands-on workers who can fill the many skilled-trade jobs that become available each day.
That's why it's so important that the governor has put an emphasis on increasing educational opportunities for skilled trades in our state's schools
The Alpena News. Feb. 19.
Congress needs details before approving Obama's military plan
Debate over a critical issue of U.S. policy — defeating Islamic terrorists — appears to have taken on an impressive bipartisan tone. Both Democrat and Republican members of Congress have serious concerns about President Barack Obama's request they authorize additional use of military force.
Air strikes, assassinations using unmanned drones and covert operations already have been used extensively against terrorists, including the Islamic State. Obama has done that without asking for lawmakers' approval.
Precisely what is it that he has in mind in seeking a formal resolution now?
Some in Congress worry about giving the White House a blank check for use of U.S. ground troops in the Middle East. Obviously, that should not happen.
But senators and representatives also should be asking for enough detail about Obama's plan to ensure it provides a reasonable chance of success. No more American lives should be wasted in futile attempts to "contain" terrorists.
Lawmakers of both parties should view that as a litmus test — and reject any presidential proposal that does not meet it.
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