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Automotive Leaders: Awareness Must Begin Early to Prepare Students for High-Tech Industry Careers

Attracting the next generation of talented workers for the automotive industry requires changing perceptions among parents and school counselors and creating awareness and excitement for manufacturing among younger students, industry leaders said during an “Industry and Education” roundtable discussion hosted by MICHauto and University Research Corridor at the Detroit Regional Chamber last week.

The discussion also focused on efforts to improve collaboration among manufacturers and higher education institutions in curriculum and training, the need for more apprenticeship programs, and innovative ways to remove barriers for students exploring automotive career pathways.

“There is a challenge with parents that say, ‘I don’t want my kids going into auto.’ We try to be responsive to the trends taking place in automotive and align ourselves closer to what is needed and yet there is still this talent supply decreasing overall in Michigan,” said Mark Brucki, executive director of corporate community partnerships at Lawrence Technological University.

Industry leaders said offering more courses is only half of the equation and work is needed to educate students on where those options exist.

“I don’t see a connected vehicle major. Students do not know where to go and they shouldn’t have to work that hard to find out. It isn’t just one institution that offers everything,” said Dawn Thompson of P3 North America.

The roundtable featured representatives from over 15 Southeast Michigan suppliers, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., University of Michigan, Washtenaw Community College and Wayne State University.