Rotarian Randy Lindquist introduced “Muskegon Made” by stating, “This initiative was born out of many conversations between educational and business leaders in Muskegon. It is similar to the Co-Op model we may have experienced when we were attending high school. The Co-Op programs of the past allowed students to discover different career paths by working in part-time jobs during school hours providing real world experience and soft skill development. These programs were eventually discontinued in schools because of over regulation and adherence policies.”
Muskegon Made gains its strength and framework from an old model, but with a new goal and a collaborative focus. The goal of Muskegon Made is to provide access to all students with a concrete framework. Its comprehensive approach can be replicated in all schools in Muskegon County from kindergarten to graduation. This is an important development in the structure of the program, as it ensures every school follows the same structure so measuring and monitoring student progress can be accomplished. Of course, this new model embraces technology and relies on specific software. The software programs encourage the student to explore options based on preferences and aspirations expressed by the students’ choices.
The goals of Muskegon Made focus on key areas that have been identified as growth opportunities. The most important of these areas are: students should gain employability skills; gain real life career related experiences; and also graduate with a plan. All of this is possible if Muskegon Made is utilized early enough in the education system to allow for change and growth in the students’ interest and ability. If a student chooses a career of interest and experiences, the career through job shadowing, job fairs or talent tours, the student will understand and acknowledge their aptitude and passion for that specific career. Early career exploration allows students to truly design their life path and develop the necessary skills for a successful and satisfactory outcome.
Muskegon Made represents an innovative solution to compounding workforce issues. With a collaborative focus on careers, the Muskegon Made program, allows schools and business to better partner and build local talent that will improve the quality of life for our children. It represents a community working together to solve the needs of all through strategy and a comprehensive approach. Isn’t this what community is all about?