Detroit Regional Chamber > Detroit Policy Conference > Building a Strong Workforce for Michigan’s Future

Building a Strong Workforce for Michigan’s Future

January 12, 2024

Key takeaways

  • Modern job seekers want more than a job – they want a lifestyle. 
  • A vibrant downtown environment, coupled with a comfortable office space and policies that foster community, is key to generating talent attraction momentum. 
  • Whatever is accomplished, its impact must stand the test of time beyond political administrations. 

View the session recording below.

Talent attraction is an urgent matter in a state with an ever-aging population and poor labor force participation. However, modern job seekers are demanding something different than older generations; they want more than a job – they want a lifestyle. How will Michigan work together to holistically develop workplaces, neighborhoods, and infrastructure to get young people to choose this state over others?  

Portia Roberson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Focus: HOPE, insisted that “you can’t just say ‘we have a good job’ and expect people to rush to that. It’s about the place and whether you’re a welcoming community.” Unlike older talent, young talent doesn’t choose a job and stay there for decades just because it’s a “good job.” When choosing where to work, they consider factors like transportation options, childcare accessibility, and social opportunities. 

Mike Malloy, Chief Amazement Officer at Rocket Central, thinks that a vibrant downtown environment, a comfortable office space, and policies that foster community are key to generating talent attraction momentum. When asked if in-office participation will ever return to pre-pandemic levels, he doubled down on his confidence that energy begets more energy when it comes to getting talent to return to their brick-and-mortar space, saying “culture matters, places matter, environment matters, and the ability for people to interact in the way they want to matters.” 

Denise Brooks-Williams, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of Care Delivery System Operations at Henry Ford Health, who currently competes nationally with all industries for talent, is focused on developing a healthcare-only talent pipeline that is supported by scholarships and includes healthcare-adjacent positions like finance and legal.  

Henry Ford Health’s partnership with the Detroit Pistons and Michigan State University has been pivotal in executing attractive placemaking strategies such as nearby housing and retail because “place does matter, and as we recruit the next workforce, they may want to live closer to where they work and be able to walk in that environment.” 

Regarding macro-level change for long-standing issues, Chief Growth Officer at the State of Michigan, Hilary Doe, says that Whitmer has made it clear that whatever they accomplish, its impact must stand the test of time beyond her administration. Doe’s team has spent the last six months connecting with Michiganders across the state, saying that “every issue has its time, and the people of Michigan are telling us now is the time to take this stuff on.”  

For the folks she and her team have met with, this is a very emotional issue. They not only see but feel the impact of declining enrollments, declining tax bases, and a lack of jobs and talent in their communities.  

“Jobs need talent. Talent wants place. And places benefit from robust economies with lots of jobs,” Doe concluded. “It’s a system, and all of us need to know we have a role to play and show action early.” 

Thank you to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for sponsoring this session.