Editorial

Thinking outside the box is essential in solving worker shortage

August 17, 2018
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The Business Journal has noted for more than a year the ever-worsening talent and recruitment shortages in the region (and state). The issue is part of almost every discussion with business owners and executives, especially those who understand the worker shortage is quickly becoming a tsunami as older adults retire and population decreases over the decades underscore the fact that replacements are far fewer. Education is key to address the issue.

It is with that background the Business Journal finds comment in a partnership between Mel Trotter and Cornerstone University's Professional and Graduate Studies division. The nonprofit serving the homeless population has created an opportunity with the university that defines divergent thinking. The Business Journal is reporting a discounted degree program allows Mel Trotter program graduates and its staff to pursue an associate degree in human services, on-site at Mel Trotter, beginning this academic year.

The university is providing a 10 percent discount, and Mel Trotter clients each will receive a $1,000 scholarship to help curb the costs, courtesy of an anonymous funder who awarded a $25,000 grant to the program, allowing scholarships for 25 students.

The program is given additional strength in advance discussions with employers, like Spectrum Health, which expressed an interest in hiring graduates. The agency President and CEO Dennis Van Kampen noted the very act of homeless clients’ focus on a career path offers employers proof the clients will commit to difficult tasks, despite the life events of poverty and family dynamics. Van Kampen also noted the program provides hope to individuals who “felt like there was not any way he or she would be able to go to college.”

The Business Journal reported in May on the success of a Calvin College Prison Initiative program that provided 15 inmates at the correctional facility in Ionia with associate degrees in ministry leadership. Many of the prisoners want to use their education to help the next generation of people who may be in similar situations as they were at a younger age.

Employers must use such out-of-the-box initiatives to stay ahead of the worker shortage tsunami.

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