Print Friendly and PDF

Making the Business Case For Prioritizing Talent Development

“Historically, it was very easy to earn an above average income nationally without a degree. Those days have come and gone,” said Butzel Long’s Richard Rassel. “It has left us far behind in our efforts to further upscale home-grown talent in Michigan and that is the challenge that we’re facing.”

On Tuesday, May 28 at the 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees initiative hosted The Business Case for Prioritizing Talent Development – a session focused on how businesses and state policymakers can address the talent supply and demand gap.

The Kresge Foundation’s William Moses welcomed attendees to the session. The Chamber’s Greg Handel and Rassel discussed how Detroit Drives Degrees — a collective impact initiative working to improve the talent pipeline in the Detroit region — is bridging the gap.

To offer the statewide perspective, the State of Michigan’s Doug Ross shared Gov. Whitmer’s education goals. The governor and the Chamber agree that for Michigan to achieve long-term economic growth, 60% of its residents require some form of postsecondary credential by 2030. The challenge is to add 450,000 degrees or certificates over the next decade beyond expected growth.

“We no longer stop at high school. A high school is no longer enough if you aspire to a living wage with which to sustain a family,” Ross said.

A panel, moderated by The Detroit News’ Ingrid Jacques, included Ross, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s Emily House, Discover Financial Services’ Jon Kaplan, and Quicken Loans’ KimArie Yowell. They shared the economic and business benefit of companies’ investing in their employees through funding and flexible scheduling, the achievable reality of reaching educational attainment goals in states like Tennessee to Michigan, and more.

“The way that we look at development is not just what happens inside of a classroom,” said Yowell. “As an organization, how do we tap into the foundation that’s been laid and build upon it?”

Key Takeaways:

  • As of April, there were 351,670 open jobs in Michigan. The state ranked 11th in the nation for job postings.
  • Forty-four percent of Michigan residents have a postsecondary credential. By 2030, 65% of all U.S. jobs will require a postsecondary credential.
  • The path to improving the talent pipeline to achieve 2030 goals must include adult learners alongside high school students. In Michigan, 1.4 million adults have some college and no degree.
  • Employer-based training constitutes 63% of postsecondary spending while 59% of employers offer a formal tuition assistance program but only 8% measure their return.
  • There is a business imperative to investing in employees. For every dollar an employer spends, the return on investment is $1.44, said Rassel.
  • Sixty percent of the immigrants who come to Michigan since 2010 have a bachelor’s or graduate degrees, said Ross. There must be more focus on implementing policy to attract immigrants with college degrees and retain international students.
  • Companies should consider investing in their employees through higher education achievements like tuition reimbursement initiatives, continued skills development, and opportunities for internal growth.