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Detroit Drives Degrees, Detroit Reconnect Progress Highlighted at Sixty by 30 Talent Tour: Detroit Region

The Detroit Regional Chamber partnered with the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, and other key stakeholders on Thursday, Sept. 9, for the Sixty by 30 Talent Tour: Detroit Region.

The virtual tour stop celebrated the growing number of working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree and highlighted the latest Sixty by 30 achievements. Sixty by 30 is an education and talent initiative that the Detroit Regional Chamber and the State of Michigan partnered on to increase the postsecondary attainment rate in Michigan to 60% by 2030.

Increasing postsecondary education attainment is key to the economic prosperity for individuals, the Detroit region, and the entire state. High-demand job openings are steadily growing, and many require a postsecondary credential—something that only 49% of working-age adults in the state have. This does not bode well to the business owners who shared with Greg Handel, vice president of Education and Talent at the Chamber, that accessing talent is one of their top priorities to compete in the marketplace.

According to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, Metro Detroit is home to nearly 1.7 million jobs and is projected to have almost 209,000 job openings every year through 2028. Of those projected openings, at least 52,300 will require a postsecondary certification, an associate degree, or apprenticeship.

To help fill these roles, the Chamber launched the Detroit Drives Degrees initiative. The initiative focuses on three things: advancing access to postsecondary opportunities, boosting student success, and retaining local talent and attracting new talent.

“A postsecondary education or training is the best way for our residents to have careers in high-wage occupations that fill our businesses’ in-demand talent needs,” Handel said.

Since the launch of Detroit Drive Degrees, its partners have already seen some wins. For example, Rocket Mortgage recently partnered with Guild Education to grow its upskilling and tuition assistance program. This will create more educational opportunities for their workers while helping fill key roles and better meet talent needs.

The Chamber also launched Detroit Reconnect, and the State of Michigan launched Michigan Reconnect. Both services connect adults aged 25 and older without a completed postsecondary education with advisors who provide personalized support and college advising services.

“There are nearly 700,000 people in our region who started college but never finished a degree. With 75% of the jobs of the future requiring a postsecondary degree or certificate, we believe the business community has an important role to play in helping to grow Michigan’s talent pipeline. We’re proud to partner in these efforts,” said Handel.

Those efforts, according to Handel, will also have a significant impact on the Chamber’s Racial Justice and Economic Equity goals.

According to a 2021 report by the Brookings Institution, the Black adult population in the Detroit region has the lowest postsecondary completion rate (26%) and the region’s largest share of its population with “some college, no degree” (13%). Several national studies have also shown that Black and Latino college students are more likely to cancel their plans to attend college than their white counterparts. Low-income households are also more than twice as likely as high-income households to report a community college student dropping out.

Detroit Drives Degrees, Detroit Reconnect, and Michigan Reconnect help create pathways to postsecondary education for individuals in these demographics, ultimately bolstering the region’s and state’s economy. By itself, the Detroit region has the potential to grow by as much as 12% and generate an additional $28 billion annually by reconciling gaps in economic equity that have historically limited people of color from full participation in the economy.

“Programs like Michigan Connect are helping to put hardworking men and women on a path to fulfilling careers that provide economic security. And, they’re working. If current trends continue, we’ll be on track to reach our goal by 2030 and make Michigan a better place for all,” said Kerry Ebersole Singh, director of the Office of Sixty by 30.

Watch the Sixty by 30 Talent Tour: Detroit Region event here.