Study: Michigan Will Need More College Graduates to Remedy Skills Shortage

Study: Michigan Will Need More College Graduates to Remedy Skills Shortage
March 21, 2013/Crains Detroit Business

By Chris Gautz
  
Without a change in direction, the study contends, Michigan could wind up with too many residents needing low-paying and low-skilled work and not enough ready for employment in higher-paying and higher-skilled work.

The study cites a report from the Lumina Foundation that says by 2025 Michigan will have to produce 900,000 more college graduates than currently projected. The state's demographics are not making that any easier, because Michigan's residents are getting older and population growth is slowing. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the state will have about 100,000 fewer 18- to 24-year-olds in 2025.

Asked for a reason that they hadn't filled all their higher-than-average-paying jobs, more than half of all businesses in the study said the applicants lacked the proper experience or skills.

"Skills shortages are common when economies come out of recessions and need to be addressed. But in the future, Michigan will face a greater challenge in producing enough college- and university-educated talent," Business Leaders President and CEO Doug Rothwell said in a statement. "The state needs both a well-educated workforce that can compete in a knowledge-based economy and one with constantly upgraded skills to meet evolving demands."

Better collaboration is needed between educators and businesses to identify what the needs will be in the future so schools and worker training programs will work best, the report states.

But that isn't easy to do, according to the report, because needs can change rapidly.

"Even high-demand occupations can experience an oversupply of talent when there are more graduates being educated in a field than there are projected job openings," Rothwell said.

As examples, the report says eight of the top 10 high-wage jobs are projected to have an oversupply of talent in the next three years, including personal financial advisers, registered nurses and elementary school teachers.

Gov. Rick Snyder has been speaking about the need for such collaboration for some time and this week convened a meeting of business leaders to talk about what they see and ways to fix the problem. Next month, he has an education summit scheduled to deal with the supply side of the issue.

In his statement, Rothwell said this report reinforces his organization's push for increased college affordability, the attraction of more students to higher education from within and outside Michigan and stronger school-to-work transition programs.

"Overall, the good news is that Michigan's economy is growing again after a decade of job losses resulting in even stronger demand for educated talent," Rothwell said. "We live in a dynamic marketplace where economies, businesses and jobs are being redefined faster than ever. 

"A solid foundation of learning, coupled with solid skills and experiences, offers Michigan residents the best opportunity to compete effectively for quality jobs that pay well."



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