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Blurring the lines between education and Neo-Liberal Capitalism: GVSU partners with local business to provide a talent pipeline

February 13, 2023

Last week both MLive and MiBiz reported that GVSU has begun a new program, where they are partnering with 5 Grand Rapids-based companies.

The program is being called the Laker Accelerated Talent Link. The name of the program is consistent with how the Capitalist Class sees educational institutions, where their main function is to create talent for businesses. In fact, the local group Talent First, said that the three main goals of their work, from a 2017 report, was to, 1) develop partnerships between businesses and educators, 2) Evaluate community investments to improve the opportunity ecosystem (make sure school funding was used for workforce development), and 3) Change public policy to create a new education system.

All of this think around talent creation and workforce development is consistent with Neo-Liberal Capitalism.

The President of GVSU, Philomena Mantella, confirmed this relationship between Neo-Liberal Capitalism and education, with the following comments from the MLive article: 

We are grateful to these leading employers in the region for taking this initial step with us to equip dynamic and diverse professionals for the workforce. 

We are addressing labor-shortage concerns and creating a positive impact on the business community. This program will highlight Grand Valley students’ human-centered skills and deep knowledge of their disciplines, and the companies will benefit from well-prepared employees

The five companies that are partnering with GVSU are, Acrisure, Amway, Cascade Engineering, Corewell Health and Michigan Software Labs. Now, these aren’t just random companies that will be partnering with GVSU, they are companies that are deeply tied to the Grand Rapids Power Structure, which is essentially an interlocking system of power, as is reflected in the graphic above. For the purposes of this post, we will attach the DeVos name to Amway, since the DeVos family is at the top of the Grand Rapids Power Structure and has dozens of subsidiaries that are represented in the groups that make up the local power structure. 

It should also be noted that the President of GVSU, Philomena Mantella, also sits on the boards of Grand Action 2.0, Right Place Inc., Talent 2025, and the Econ Club of Grand Rapids. 

Another connection to this project between GVSU and local companies, which is set to begin in August of 2023, is the fact that two of the companies involved, also sit on the GVSU Board of Trustees – Amway and Corewell Health. Lastly, GVSU President Philomena Mantella stated in the MIBiz article, “GVSU plans to scale the program and is actively seeking other corporate partners.” 

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