Introduction- Page 1, 2 -|
Environmental scanning is a technique often employed in a planning process. Before an organization seeks to develop a vision and goals for its desired future, there is important advantage in assessing the environment in which it conducts its business. There is an attempt at least on a macro-basis to understand the trends and issues in the external environment that are likely to impact the organizationís operation and direction. That information along with a careful audit of internal performance becomes the basis for analysis, decision and planning.
When the private sector completes an environmental scan, it is often accompanied by a situation analysis, assessing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Business and industry that plan in this manner determine a strategic profile that will hopefully give them a strategic advantage in the environment or market in which they do business. The public sector and education in particular are not accustomed to thinking and posturing in a competitive manner. There is, however, a growing recognition of the need for public schools to prepare students who are increasingly competitive in their pursuit of continuing education and entry into the workforce. Later in the document, information is provided which suggests students and parents are beginning to have a growing number of educational choices through charter schools, schools of choice, home schools and Internet high schools. This new regional planning process emphasizes the opportunities for collaboration and shifts our orientation toward even greater cooperation. More specifically, how can we align our resources and capacity to develop more competent employees who can compete effectively within the total workforce?
The mission of the Michigan Department of Career Development is to develop a system that produces a workforce with the required skills to maintain and enhance the Michigan economy and is the foundation of this planning process.
We have learned that environmental scanning is a formidable task especially the first time. We are more accustomed to operating independently and trying to put square pegs into round holes is frustrating. We have re-discovered our differences in how we define completion and a variety of other measures. The end of the school year and the beginning of summer is a difficult time to mobilize public school forces.
Although new to us on a five-county regional scale, we have discovered a variety of other studies that have been completed which incorporated environmental scanning though often on a more limited basis. A partial list includes housing studies completed in 1997 in Lake and Newaygo counties, two transportation studies sponsored by Michigan Works! West Central and a partnership involving the counties of Lake, Mason and Oceana, the 1994 strategic plan for Lake county in preparation for successfully becoming an Enterprise Zone Community, a 1994 strategic plan for Newaygo county and one now being launched by the Mason County United Way and the West Michigan Child and Family Leadership Council.
Beyond the immediate demands of completing an environmental scan in relatively short order, there are several more significant challenges embodied within this planning process.
We wade into this new process for a variety of reasons and motivations. Most of us perceive that it was a requirement. We also understood there was a carrot for this first-time initiative. But hopefully the experience will generate a much stronger motivation driven by the belief that completing an environmental scan and strategic plan has strong merit in its own right. In a memorandum dated March 1, 2000, John Williams, Director of the Office of Career and Technical Preparation wrote: "Meeting workforce development needs in the state, and building educational system capacity through creating a cohesive, collaborative delivery system for meeting the needs of learners at all levels of education, will be enhanced by greater alignment of these initiatives." The impact of technology, an international market and a very competitive global workforce may be the ultimate motivation for a regional community working together.
The Environmental Scan Team wishes to thank all of our regional community stakeholders for their exceptional cooperation as we plagued them with requests for information and then asked for yet more but in some different configuration. We also acknowledge the outstanding contribution of Connie Shoemaker, Executive Assistant, Michigan Works! West Central.
Environmental Scan Team:
William Anderson, Consultant
Mark Bergstrom, West Shore Community College
Richard Cochran, Ferris State University
Larry Emig, Local Elected Official Chairperson
Paul Griffith, Michigan Works! West Central
Ed Haynor, Newaygo County Intermediate School District
George Robinson, Educational Advisory Group Chairperson
Tricia Ryan, Newaygo County Economic Development Office
William Stanek, Workforce Development Board Chairperson
Jerry Svendor, West Shore Community College
Mike Wyman, Michigan Works! West Central