Skills gap proposals earn broad support

May 9, 2019

Education News – Repost from The Detroit News 

As presidents of the Detroit Regional Chamber and the American Federation of Teachers Michigan respectively, we don’t always agree on public policy.

However, we do strongly agree that Michigan needs to increase the number of residents with good-paying jobs, and to close the skills gap that is threatening the future growth of our businesses.

Legislation that would do just that is now in front of the Legislature. Remarkably, in this era of partisan deadlock these proposals were developed — and have gained support — in a bipartisan manner, and were welcomed by major business organizations, labor unions, and a wide range of education and community groups across Michigan.

The reason for this broad support in an era of divided government is that these two proposals from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — MI Opportunity and Reconnect — are investments in Michigan’s talent base. They are aimed at advancing a goal shared by the chamber, the AFT, and the governor to increase our postsecondary attainment rate from 45% to 60% by 2030. More than a half-million jobs are expected to be available over the next half decade in Michigan that require more than a high school diploma — and employers have indicated their biggest concern is that we won’t have the talent to fill them.

View the full article here

Dingell not only ‘witness to history … but a maker of it’

February 7, 2019

The Detroit News

By: Mark Hicks and Melissa Nann Burke

Former U.S. Rep. John Dingell Jr.’s death Thursday prompted an outpouring of praise from across Michigan and across the political aisles, as leaders from all walks of life agreed he was “not merely a witness to history … but a maker of it.”

From former presidents to titans of industry to those who knew him as a champion for his state, many said Dingell fought politically to find common ground, was deeply rooted in public service and focused on improving lives for generations.


Dingell “paved the way for the kind of statesman-like leadership we long for today, embodying civility and an effortless way of working across the aisle,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, which has made the restoration of political civility a major priority.

“John was a champion for Michigan and always placed the interests of people above party. This loss will not only be felt across the state, but the nation as well.”

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Economic Experts: ‘No Time to Waste’ on Improving Region’s Educated Workforce

To accelerate the Detroit region’s growing economy, attract global firms, and bolster job creation in an age of rapid technological innovation, creative and collaborative solutions to improve Michigan’s education system must be a top priority. That was a key message a panel of economic and business experts reinforced repeatedly during the Detroit Regional Chamber’s fourth annual State of the Region on Wednesday, Nov. 1.

“We’ve laid the groundwork (for regional growth) and we can’t be complacent about this issue. The time is now. We have to make sure we remain competitive in all sectors,” said Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, interim associate director of social science and policy at the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute, in response to a question on the State of the Region’s findings on education attainment.

While the 2017-2018 report was largely positive in areas like median home value growth and a lower unemployment rate matching the national average for the first time in more than a decade, the report also revealed that Detroit ranks just below the national average in the percentage of the adult population with an associate degree or higher.

Hughes-Cromwick was joined on the panel by Joseph Anderson Jr., chairman and CEO of TAG Holdings LLC; Daniel Howes, columnist and associate business editor for The Detroit News; and Paul Traub, senior business economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Detroit Branch. The panel was moderated by Devin Scillian, anchor for WDIV-TV 4.

Additional takeaways from the panel include:

  • In the bid for Amazon’s HQ2, Detroit can play to its strengths, including a vibrant educational base, access to the automotive industry, and proximity to Canada.
  • Regional collaboration is critical to attracting global firms to the region.
  • Regional leaders must leverage all resources to prevent place-based development and ensure equitable, inclusive growth.
  • Closing the talent gap in Southeast Michigan requires more investment at the state level in apprenticeship programs.
  • The modern realities of technology-fueled innovation and a growing talent gap present a significant challenge for companies in Southeast Michigan.
  • The timeline for mass adoption of automated vehicles on roadways is much longer than many believe and is driven by consumer demand and the testing, regulation and adoption of innovative technology, which can be a lengthy process.
  • Just like crisis was a precursor of change for the automotive industry and the city of Detroit, it will take a crisis to fix Michigan’s education system.

Maven’s Julia Steyn: Technology is ‘Enabler’ for Michigan’s Mobility Future

Closing out programming for this year’s Automobili-D exhibit at the North American International Show, Daniel Howes, columnist for The Detroit News, sat down with Julia Steyn, General Motors’ vice president of urban mobility and Maven, to discuss car-sharing and the future of mobility in Michigan.

“(Mobility) technology keeps moving forward, so you can either look at it as a disruptor or enabler,” said Steyn about the forthcoming challenges facing the automotive industry with the increase of autonomous technology and mobility-sharing platforms. “I prefer to see it as an enabler while continuing to innovate.”

Steyn also spoke on GM’s leadership in car-sharing and mobility as a service during panel discussions earlier in the week. Read the Detroiter’s in-depth interview with Steyn about Detroit and GM’s long-term mobility vision here.