Education equals Michigan talent: Governor and Grand Valley president agree

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shown on the set at WGVU. Whitmer is a guest on West Michigan Week February 13.
Whitmer is a guest on WGVU's West Michigan Week with Patrick Center on February 13 at 6 p.m. The program will repeat February 17 at 10 a.m. The interview will also air on WGVU-Life February 15 at 8 p.m.
Image Credit: WGVU Public Media
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and President Thomas J. Haas.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and President Thomas J. Haas.
Image Credit: WGVU Public Media

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Grand Valley State University President Thomas J. Haas have a unifying message: education is a priority for the future of Michigan. Whitmer outlined several initiatives in her first State of the State Address February 12 in Lansing, including increasing support for education and those who want to pursue a college degree.

Whitmer proposed the MI Opportunity Scholarship, which offers two paths to help graduating high schools students earn a two-year or four-year college degree. She said the state has fallen behind in producing the talent that will attract new business and help current businesses compete. 

"The vast majority of today’s jobs require some form of post-secondary education, whether it’s a degree or a skills certification," said Whitmer. "But, as of 2016, only 44 percent of our workforce has such a credential. Simply put, that’s not good enough for Michigan to compete."

Her proposal echoes a column that Haas and the presidents of Ferris State University and Western Michigan University had published in Crain's Detroit Business a year ago. The impetus for the article was Amazon's rejection of Michigan as its second headquarters.

The presidents wrote, "College graduates live longer, make more money, hold better jobs, are less likely to be unemployed, and are more likely to be entrepreneurs." See full article here.

Haas will take the same message to Lansing when he testifies before the House Subcommittee on Higher Education February 14. Here is an excerpt from Haas' prepared testimony: "If we are going to invest in our infrastructure, we cannot continue to kick higher education to the curb. We are not the problem. We are part of the solution. The return on investment and Michigan's competitive advantage depends on investing in our human capital."

Whitmer is a guest on WGVU's West Michigan Week with Patrick Center Wednesday, February 13, at 6 p.m. The program will be repeated Sunday, February 17, at 10 a.m. The interview will also air on WGVU-Life Friday, February 15 at 8 p.m.