April 10, 2024


Students are asking for more training to prepare them for job opportunities in the workplace. Parents want the same thing. And, local employers and homeowners are saying that there is an acute shortage of qualified workers.

COP ESD, the regional education agency serving 10 school districts in Cheboygan, Otsego, and Presque Isle Counties, is working with students, educators, employers, and other area residents to identify ways to address the workforce opportunities that exist.

“We are working to develop a plan to help students qualify for the workforce opportunities that exist,” said COP ESD Superintendent Jamie Huber. “Our aim is to equip more students with the skills they need to qualify for jobs and careers that are in high demand right here in our communities.”

“You can understand the need if you are an employer looking for qualified workers or a homeowner who can’t find skilled workers to help with homeowner maintenance and repairs,” Huber added. “Skilled people who are trained for existing jobs are simply hard to find.”

Working with local school districts, Huber, in conjunction with the MISTEM Network led by Laura Percival, has put together a Steering Committee composed of area educators and employers. The Committee is working to identify and address the Career and Technical Education (CTE) opportunities that now exist and are projected to increase in the future.

“We also want to continue involving area citizens in our planning,” Huber emphasized. “We want their opinions about workforce preparation and their ideas about addressing the opportunities that exist in our communities.”

Huber said that COP ESD’s goal is to serve as a conduit between schools and the people who need well-trained, well-qualified workers.

 Beginning April 15, the COP ESD Steering Committee and local school districts will survey residents to assess educational opportunities and community support for expanding CTE programming across the three counties. This inclusive approach ensures that the solutions developed are comprehensive and meet the needs of all stakeholders.

Huber said the Steering Committee wants anyone who is interested in education, jobs, and taxes to participate in the three-minute online survey. “Hopefully, the information our citizens provide will lead to developing a plan to provide more CTE-related training to those living in Cheboygan, Otsego, and Presque Isle Counties.”

Area residents can access the survey at www.research.net/r/COPESDCTE.

The online survey will be accessible 24 hours a day from April 15 through April 29.

The survey will also be available on COP ESD’s website (www.copesd.org). In addition, COP ESD will send area residents a postcard invitation to participate, and local school district superintendents will send invitations to parents. 

COP ESD believes the survey and planning initiative demonstrates a collaborative effort among educational institutions, employers, and community members to address workforce challenges and create more learning opportunities for students and more workforce solutions for employers.

For continuing updates on CTE and vocational opportunities, area residents can visit COP ESD’s website, www.copesd.org.