Blog: Keith W. Cooley

Keith W. Cooley is the director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth. Before that Keith was the COO and then CEO of Focus: HOPE. He is a University of Michigan graduate with degrees in engineering physics and nuclear engineering and founded the school's Minority Engineering Programs Office. Keith will be writing about how Michigan can improve its workforce and business opportunities and environment.

Post No. 2

Educational attainment beyond high school is essential to the workforce of today and tomorrow. Simply put, a high school diploma is no longer good enough for entry into the Michigan labor market. Every person who has not had training beyond high school needs to define their own personal interests and needs, and get additional training and education.

In the future economy of Michigan, we will need every available person, we cannot have a workforce untrained for the increasingly sophisticated jobs they’ll need to fill.  

No Worker Left Behind
is not just the name of a program; it is a plea to every individual in this state to make sure that no one is without the education and the skills to compete in Michigan’s economy in the coming decades. No Worker Left Behind is a statement of determination by the people of Michigan that we will have, must have, a workforce capable of tackling and defeating the challenges we’ll face in an ever growing and competitive global marketplace.

No Worker Left Behind
is about educating those who have relied on an old economy which no longer seeks their current skills. Auto companies are seeking individuals with at least an Associate’s degrees to work in plants, skilled trades are seeing ever increasing challenges with technological improvements in the way they do business, and transportation experts are modernizing shipping and inventory methods almost daily.  

On the health care side, the Michigan Nursing Corps is about educating nursing faculty to address the estimated 18,000 person nursing shortage that’s expected by 2015. The Michigan challenge is to see that skills, and with them quality of life, are improved and sufficient to meet the needs of the individuals who will move this state forward. The undertaking is enormous, but it must succeed.

We are, and will be training the workforce of the future, but that workforce will consist of individuals who until now have been the drivers of the old economy.

Everyone must participate in changing the mindset and understanding from childhood that thoughtful application of continuous learning is the ultimate economic driver.

Business and government must have an educated, skilled workforce that sees lifelong learning is a requirement.  

The nature of the American dream has changed.