Crain’s Detroit Business
Aug. 23, 2023
Thirty-seven of the 50 “hot jobs” projected to grow and pay high wages in Michigan by 2030 require a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Yet only 27% of Michiganders believe a college education is very important to landing a successful job, and 69% believe that a high school diploma is the minimum education needed to achieve success.
That’s a full-blown perception crisis. It comes as employers deal with a talent pipeline not delivering enough highly skilled graduates. Tackling this challenge requires building a culture of education with business taking a hands-on approach to talent development in lockstep with public sector and philanthropic efforts.
While the call for employers to be more active is not new, the postsecondary environment and infrastructure to support employer-led talent strategies has evolved over the past decade. That started with seeking 60% educational attainment by 2030, a goal adopted statewide after the Detroit Regional Chamber helped establish it for the Detroit region.
The first step to reaching this goal is broadening the stream of people pursuing postsecondary education – both traditional high school graduates and adults with some college but no credential, many of whom are already in the workforce.
Second, it means improving the pipeline into and through postsecondary education, so more people are earning more quality credentials, be it a skilled certificate or associate or bachelor’s degree. The Chamber’s Workforce Success Toolkit provides resources for businesses to increase access to internships and education that lead to good jobs and career advancement.
We’ve added programs, partnering with business and beyond, to help plug employers into these efforts in innovative ways. We connect schools, employers, and students, leveraging our programs and staff with support from philanthropic foundations. This work is informed by our CEO Talent Council, chaired by Kelly’s Peter Quigley, to ensure business voices are directly helping guide program development.
For instance, the Chamber recruited national nonprofit Year Up to Detroit to launch an internship program designed to create career pathways into the financial industry and close opportunity gaps. By connecting Bank of America, Henry Ford College and JPMorgan Chase & Co., we extended this program to 30 students, 10 of whom are Detroit Promise scholarship students.
Similar work continues in a variety of industries as we partner with companies like Accenture, Deloitte, Henry Ford Health, Kelly, and Rocket Companies on everything from preparing recent graduates to enter the workforce to developing upskilling programs to help current employees earn the postsecondary credential needed to advance their career and earn a high-paying, in-demand job.
Michigan has had recent policy wins backed by business – namely, the creation of Michigan Reconnect and the Michigan Achievement Scholarships, making higher education more affordable. It’s time to double down on this work, leveraging the full weight of the business community.
We face a prospective workforce skeptical of the value of postsecondary education.
It’s going to take us all to overcome that misperception by building a culture of education and a talent pipeline where all Michiganders can see, seek, and achieve success.
Greg Handel is Vice President of Education and Talent at the Detroit Regional Chamber.