The Oakland County Executive Office recently announced a new initiative designed to assist residents in securing a post-high school degree or credential. A press conference was held at Oakland Community College, where the county’s chief deputy executive and guest speakers introduced the brand-new career and education navigators.
These navigators will work closely with Oakland County adults to help future and current students find their path to a meaningful career. Residents can meet individually with the navigators and create a road map to completing a post-secondary degree or credential. The navigators will also help with registration, college or training completion, financial aid and loan application, transferring records, and accessing academic supports and additional supportive services.
This effort comes at a time when Oakland County employers have seen a shortage of skilled workers. It will help residents secure training in growing, in-demand industries including health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing, construction, and other skilled trades. According to recent southeast Michigan labor market data from Emsi, there were 6,530 job openings in information technology, 2,622 in health care, 2,736 in advanced manufacturing and 595 in construction.
“…you often need advice, counseling, someone along the way that can say you can do it. It might take a minute It might take three years, but you can do it. You need that person who’s helping you and so we wanted to have support in the community to kind of help our residents, who were making this important transition.”-Oakland County Chief Deputy Executive Hilarie Chambers
Oakland University President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., Chancellor of Oakland Community College Peter Provenzano and Associate Academic Dean of Health Professions at OCC Lynn Cherry also spoke at the press conference. They informed existing and future students how to access services provided by the navigators.
The navigators, funded by the American Rescue Plan, will be located at the six Michigan Works! offices in Oakland County, Oakland Community College, Oakland University, the Oakland Literacy Council, and other partner sites throughout the county. During the conference, Hilarie Chambers introduced the career and education navigator team, comprised of individuals with varying backgrounds who have come together to help Oakland County residents take on higher education or training.
“We want to be that person that goes in to help you understand how to use those resources that are already in our community. They’re out there. There are people that just don’t know they’re out there. There are people that just don’t know how to get to them. And there are people that just never thought that these resources were available for them to be able to achieve the kind of goals they have in their academic and professional lives.”-Career and Education Navigator Cal Talley
This initiative is one of the county’s efforts to reach the ambitious Oakland80 goal and ensure that we have a skilled workforce here in Oakland County. Navigators will help residents looking for high-demand careers and employers looking to hire skilled talent. According to 2019 data from the Lumina Foundation, 59% of Oakland County’s 679,000 working adults already have an advanced degree. This outpaces the state of Michigan, with a statewide rate of 42%, which is below the U.S. average of 44%. With the navigator’s assistance, we hope to grow that percentage.
“Now we do recognize, collectively, that we do have a lot of work ahead of us and the goal is a steep one, but we are determined. We are persistent. We are resilient and collectively, we know what it takes to get there because we have common purpose, and we have great confidence that we can achieve.”-Oakland University President Ora Pescovitz, M.D.
These navigators recognize that all education paths are not the same and will work alongside residents to create the road map that works for them. With the goal of 80 percent of county residents obtaining a college degree or professional certificate by 2030, the navigators are excited to serve our community.
Learn more about Oakland80:
Jared Barnett, a graduate of both OCC and OU, shared his educational journey. Jared believes that the navigators will make a difference in the lives of future students.
“Having these resources puts people on the path to pursue a career goal that they want, and it opens your mind up, because at a point I felt like I was defeated and there’s no way I can afford to go to a university, and I almost didn’t even pursue it. But it opens your mind when you have these resources, and you have the people who have the knowledge – that’s the key. It’s amazing to have the finances, but to actually have the knowledge and the resources combined, what more can you ask for at this point.”-Oakland University and Oakland Community College graduate Jared Barnett
Oakland County provides residents the education, training, and support they need to get good paying jobs while assisting businesses in retention and recruitment efforts as part of the Skilled & Educated Workforce goal in our five-year road map.