New State of Education Report Details Education and Talent Needs of the Region

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s inaugural State of Education report serves as a call to action that change is needed to improve outcomes for education and talent to guarantee economic prosperity for the region. Chamber Chief Operating Officer Tammy Carnrike presented the report to more than 150 attendees at the new State of the Region session “Detroit 2030: From Education Crisis to Talent Hub.” Here are the key takeaways:

Though disparities in postsecondary outcomes exist between the city and the region, the region as a whole lags behind the nation in key measures

The leaks in the regional talent pipeline, where students are dropping off before earning a degree, exist not at just one stage but are prevalent throughout the pipeline.

With only 47% of regional students who enroll in college persisting to graduate after six years, there is a need to not just enroll students in postsecondary education but to ensure they earn a degree or credential, according to the Michigan Education Data Center.

The Detroit region, more than any of its national peers, must make education attainment a top priority to compete in today’s increasingly complex economy.

According to the U.S. Census American Community Survey One-Year Estimates, there are 694,995 regional adults who have postsecondary experience, but “stopped out” before earning a credential. Reengaging these adult students provides a significant opportunity for increasing education attainment.

In 2017, 36% of college graduates left the state within 12 months of graduating, according to Michigan State University Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. Keeping the educated talent in our state post-graduation will contribute to increasing the population of adults with degrees.

State of Education: Detroit’s Turnaround

Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District, discussed the city’s challenges in improving its schools, naming poor infrastructure and need for support from the business community as some of its challenges. Carnrike discussed with Vitti the district’s achievements in recent years, and its areas for opportunity.

Detroit students lag behind students in surrounding school districts because of economic inequality, said Vitti. Public schools in wealthier districts receive considerably more funding per student, giving them the advantage over Detroit students.

“To educate the average Detroiter takes more funding than educating the average Birmingham student,” Vitti said.

Students also face non-academic relation issues, Vitti explained. He notes that social-economic factors should not be discounted, including food and housing, and that Michigan has been stagnant from a systems policy perspective.

“We have to think about strategies and investments to change that.”

Carnrike asked Vitti on what he considers to be the district’s two-year priority challenges. Vitti named investing in teachers, career opportunities for students, and infrastructure.

“Facilities do matter – our schools are deteriorating,” said Vitti. “By 2023, our buildings would need 1.5 billion dollars. The state does not mark one cent for capital improvement.”

While the district struggles in many areas, it has made strides in recent years. Enrollment has increased for the first time in over a decade, said Vitti. And most students showed improvement individually.

“Our level of improvement outpaced the rest of the state,” said Vitti.

Detroit 2030: From Education Crisis to Talent Hub

Education and Talent’s Crucial Impact on Detroit’s Economic Growth

Last week, during State of the Region’s “Detroit 2030: From Education Crisis to Talent Hub,”  experts discussed the importance of education along with talent attraction and retention in relation to Detroit’s continual progress, and the necessity to train today’s talent for jobs of the future to ensure steady economic growth.

The War for Talent: A Global View with Kelly Services’ George Corona

Over the last decade, the shifting global talent landscape has proven a challenge for businesses as they struggle to keep up with digital disruption, aging workforces, and widening skill gaps.

“The biggest challenge to global growth is having access to talent,” said keynote speaker George Corona, retired president and CEO of Kelly Services, Inc. “If you hope to survive, you’re going to have to change.”

The war for talent is a product of companies, regions, and countries competing for the same talent pool. Businesses must find different ways to approach the workforce, changing social norms, and technology’s influence on the workforce.

Technology’s significant and disruptive impact is changing the skills required to compete in the workforce due to innovations like Artificial Intelligence. By 2022, 133 million new jobs will emerge meaning the global workforce will have to be reskilled to meet those new needs.

“The number one thing Detroit has to do to avoid a slow-growth future is to retain and redeploy workers at scale to meet talent needs of the companies of the future,” Corona said. “Together we have a responsibility to change the course of our future and invest in the talent we have.”

Detroit’s Talent Market: Now vs. the Future

At the local level, starting talent development in K-12 by investing in programs and mentorships dedicated to learning tech skills will help Detroit’s students qualify for jobs of the future, creating opportunities and benefiting the economy.

“Five years from now, ten years from now, those students will be prime candidates to work for us,” said KimArie Yowell, vice president of talent development for Quicken Loans. “We’re competing with Ford, we’re competing with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, so we have to think differently about how we’re doing that.”

Post-secondary attainment is also vital for the future of the region. Companies must tell their legislators how critical investing in talent is for companies in the present and future, said Brandy Johnson, advisor of post-secondary education and workforce development for the State of Michigan.

“We need, as business leaders, to say we’re going to do this,” said Frank Venegas Jr., chairman and CEO of Ideal Group. “We’re creating these opportunities; we’re creating successes all over.”

Detroit Chamber: Metro Students Must Finish Degrees to Find Good Jobs

December 4, 2019

Bridge Michigan

Alexandra Schmidt

Many Detroit-area students are not prepared to work where they live.

According to the Detroit Regional Chamber’s first-ever State of Education Report, released Thursday, students are dropping out of the region’s education system at every stage, resulting in a talent pool without the accreditations local employers want.

It’s a “flashing light” on the region’s dashboard, said Sandy Baruah, President and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, at a Wednesday conference call about the report. “Our leaky education pipeline is a huge challenge for our region today and going forward.”

It’s a vexing issue that played out nationally in 2018 when Amazon bypassed billions of dollars in tax incentives to locate HQ2 in Detroit. The company cited concerns with the lack of skilled workers in the region, compounded by a fear the region’s lack of mass transit would hobble its ability to attract outside talent.

“In order for our businesses to succeed, for our economy to succeed, for our communities to succeed, we need people to fill those jobs,” Baruah said.

Completion rates lag behind enrollment

“One of the most impactful metrics we found” was the number of Detroit-area residents that don’t earn a postsecondary degree within six years, said Tammy Carnrike, chief operating officer at the Detroit Regional Chamber. That can be a major impediment in a job market that is increasingly demanding a credential beyond high school.

It’s not that students aren’t enrolling in postsecondary programs — it’s that they aren’t finishing them.

Across metro Detroit, students actually enroll in two- and four-year program at a slightly higher clip than across the nation. But across the region, nearly half of students who start a postsecondary degree have not completed it six years later.

Enrollment and completion rates are even lower for students from the city of Detroit specifically. Fifty-seven percent of city residents enroll in a postsecondary program after high school, compared to the national enrollment rate of 67 percent. Six years later, nearly three out of four students still haven’t completed their degree.

A web of factors contributes to these noncompletion rates.

Sometimes high school graduates are not ready for the increased rigor of college courses. Less than 10 percent of city of Detroit high schoolers are considered college-ready based on their ACT and SAT scores. This is lower than the regional average (36 percent), the statewide average (35 percent), and the national average (51 percent).

It’s an issue the chamber ran into with students participating in the chamber’s Detroit Promise program, which helps cover the cost of tuition and fees of postsecondary programs for Detroit graduates from the class of 2017 who meet certain residential and educational requirements.

“A lot of our two-year students who take advantage of free tuition take a lot of their credits in those two years taking remedial courses. And that’s an indicator they are not leaving high school with a level of postsecondary readiness,” said Baruah.

Some research shows that taking remedial courses actually makes students less likely to complete a postsecondary program, given that the courses demand time and financial resources that do not directly contribute college credits toward the completion of the degree.

Other times, life itself gets in the way.

Car repairs that sap tuition savings, food insecurity, unreliable childcare — all of life’s standard hurdles can get in the way of students completing their degrees. Recently, schools across the state have tried to help vulnerable college students overcome these bumps, from “life needs” scholarships to additional academic advising and community support, with some success.

The high number of residents not completing post-high school degrees has resulted in nearly 700,000 residents across the region who have some postsecondary credits, but no credentials to show for it.

Uncompleted degrees: hurdle or potential powerhouse?

The State of Education report highlights the high cost of lower educational attainment, both for students and the region.

Residents without a degree are less likely to get a job, and they make less money if they are employed. Eight-one percent of the region’s jobs went to candidates with some type of postsecondary credential since 2010, while sixty-nine percent of working-age Detroiters without a high school diploma are either unemployed or not in the workforce.

On top of this, many of the fastest growing parts of Detroit’s economy, such as engineering and business, require a two- or four-year degree that residents struggle to attain. This trend is expected to continue, and would widen the gap between the credentials that the region’s residents have and what local employers want from prospective workers.

The personal financial stress correlated with lower educational achievement is exacerbated for students who took out student loans for programs they didn’t finish. They may have the loan debt associated with a postsecondary degree, but not the wage boost associated with actually earning a degree.

It’s a situation faced by millions of Americans across the country, who are three times more likely to default on student loans than those who finish their degree.

On the flip side, said Carnrike, the nearly 700,000 adults across metro Detroit with an incomplete degree are closer to earning a certification than residents who have never started a program.

“It’s not just students coming out of school, but adults returning to school as well,” Carnrike said.

She says employers can play a major role in providing employees with the support necessary to return to school. Employers will have to start asking themselves, “What can I do to make it easier for my employees who haven’t earned their degrees?”

Metro Detroit has a lot to gain if employers start thinking that way, Carnrike said.

A 1 percent increase in the number of people earning a bachelor’s degree would increase the per-capita income in the region by $1,250, according to the chamber’s report. It also estimates that if the metro Detroit reaches a point where 60 percent of residents have a postsecondary credential by 2030, “the region will see an estimated return on investment of $42 billion.”

Chamber launches new compact

“As a business leader I am hearing a lot about” the lack of qualified home-grown talent, said Richard Hampson, Michigan president of Citizens Bank, at a conference call Wednesday to discuss the report.

“I think numbers like the $42 billion dollar [return on investment] … will get the attention of business leaders,” Hampson said.

While he says many businesses are already impacted by the issue and want to be a part of the solution, Hampson said “more visibility of the data” presented in the chamber’s report “will lead to more business leaders wanting to be a part of it.”

That is exactly what the chamber said it is hoping for.

“One of the first and foremost actions,” the chamber plans to take following the release of the report “will be putting together a compact” through their Detroit Drives Degrees Program, says Carnrike.

The chamber’s new Detroit Drives Degrees Talent Compact aims to be a collaborative effort among regional educational institutions, businesses and nonprofits to break down barriers to postsecondary educational attainment.

“All this information that we’re presenting is years and years built up. And we’re not going to be able to turn it around immediately,” Carnrike said, but “we have to do a better job” of “getting students into college and keeping them there.”

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The Kresge Foundation Grants $450,000 to Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation to Improve College Readiness, Access and Success

The Kresge Foundation and the Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation today announce new funding to launch a comprehensive plan and campaign to increase postsecondary education attainment in Southeast Michigan. The $450,000 grant from Kresge will urgently address a crisis, as part of the Chamber’s Forward Detroit regional economic development and competitiveness strategy.

Under the Chamber’s direction, the Detroit Drives Degrees Education Compact represents a collective commitment by leaders in education, business, philanthropy, government and the nonprofit community to address an ongoing barrier to economic development – the lack of residents without higher education credentials or college degrees compared to peer regions across the country. Increasing the number of students who remain enrolled and graduate from a college or university is a key focus of Detroit Drives Degrees, a program started by the Chamber in 2015 to increase college attendance and, ultimately, graduation.

According to Michigan’s Center for Educational Performance and Information, 73 percent of the region’s high school graduates enroll in college within 12 months of graduating but only 35 percent of those graduates earn a degree or credential within six years. The majority of high schools in the city of Detroit have graduating classes with less than 10 percent of students going on to earn a four-year credential, impacting the entire region.

“The Kresge Foundation’s grant allows the Chamber to both develop and implement a strategic blueprint to bolster postsecondary attainment throughout the region. Philanthropic partners like Kresge play a key role in helping us reach our goal of increasing individuals with postsecondary degrees from 43 to 60 percent by 2025,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Chamber.

“We want to help Detroit fulfill its workforce needs using its own homegrown talent,” said Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation. “Detroiters are hungry for the opportunity to get to work, and this initiative will help ensure they’re equipped with the skills, education and credentials required to do just that. We know a postsecondary education is no longer a luxury, but a necessity to move into the economic mainstream, and we’re proud to partner with the Chamber to help more Detroiters and people from across the region get that education.”

The Detroit Drives Degrees Leadership Council, led by Co-chairs Daniel Little, chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and Richard Rassel, chairman of Butzel Long, represent 35 cross-sectional leaders from the business, government and academic sectors throughout the region and will serve as signatories for the Compact.

During the next three years, the Chamber will work with the Leadership Council to designate regionwide improvement goals on key attainment metrics and will regularly track and publicize progress on these goals. The Detroit Drives Degrees Compact will address each stage of the talent development pipeline: college readiness, college access, college success and transition to the workforce.

The following will serve as key milestones in the development of the plan:

  • Publish an inaugural “State of Education” report to assess the Detroit region’s education ecosystem.
  • Develop and ratify benchmarks, which will form the basis of the Detroit Drives Degrees Compact. 
  • Cultivate public awareness and continued accountability for achieving the annual benchmarks through media, events and grassroots outreach.
  • Identify and implement key strategies to promote student success through the guidance of regional higher education institutions and other partner organizations.

Kresge’s support comes from its national Education Program and its Detroit Program.