Changing the conversation

Years ago, we moved away from promoting all pathways to good-paying and rewarding careers. A four-year university degree is one pathway. But there are other ways that lead a sustainable and happy lifestyle. Not enough people considered the professional trades because they had long-outdated perceptions of the jobs.

Under the new budget bill signed today by Governor Rick Snyder, we have an opportunity to change the conversation on professional trades and shift the normal way of thinking on professional trades and create awareness of the many pathways to rewarding and good-paying careers.

We know changing a decades-old perception won’t happen overnight. And we have much to do. So where do we start?

The professional trades industry provides rewarding, challenging and good-paying careers. They aren’t easy. To think otherwise would be holding onto a long-outdated view of these careers.

These folks are building iconic bridges, transforming mobility in the state, creating new and innovative technology and so much more. They are the foundation of our continued economic success.

Michigan is evolving and so are the opportunities in the professional trades. Training for these careers is rigorous and extensive.

Perhaps the best part of these careers is students acquire little to no student debt and reap a lifetime of benefits and learning — coming out well ahead of their friends who opted for a four-year degree.

More times than not, kids seek their parents’ advice, especially when it comes to post-secondary education options.

Over the years, we’ve pounded into parents’ heads the only pathway to a successful career is a four-year degree. As a result, we have given parents the wrong ideas about the professional trades.

Instead of asking your student where they want to go, ask them what they want to do. That one seemingly-small question can open the dialogue on a path to a career your child will thrive in.

We must do a better job of getting the facts out. The truth is, there are an abundance of opportunities in the professional trades and they aren’t going anywhere. By 2024, professional trades will account for more than 500,000 jobs in the Michigan economy, with an expected 15,000 new job openings annually during that time.

The GoingPRO campaign will help make students — and those that guide them — aware of what opportunities lie ahead and how to take advantage of — and prepare for — them. But we need your help to continue highlighting these pathways, removing the scarlet letter and revealing the industry that has truly been the backbone of our economic success in a positive light.

Let’s get to work.

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