Workforce Intelligence Network study underscores relationship between economic development, talent development

Continued growth in IT, healthcare and manufacturing coupled with declining unemployment offer opportunity for economic prosperity in region

DETROIT – A new report released by the Workforce Intelligence Network of Southeast Michigan (WIN) identifies the region’s three strongest growth sectors in the labor market and the challenges and opportunities for talent development in the state. The report, titled: “Working Smarter: Understanding Jobs & Talent in Southeast Michigan”, also makes recommendations for how educational and corporate sectors must collaborate to prepare the workers of today and tomorrow.

Analyzing employment, training and education data from 2007-2012, WIN’s report is the first step in understanding Southeast Michigan’s post-recession rebound and its need to fill an exacerbated skills gap for the jobs needed to maintain the region’s economic strength.

Job demand in the areas of information technology, advanced manufacturing and health care, as evidenced by the number of employer job postings, has been substantial, to the point where employers are significantly challenged in filling positions.

“Employers say talent is their number one need to grow or expand their businesses,” said Lisa Katz, WIN Executive Director. “As such, we know that the key to economic development is talent development, including fostering creativity and education of Michigan’s youth.”

Growth Industries

Information technology is the region’s most rapidly growing occupational cluster. In the past five years, job postings for all regional IT occupations climbed nearly 55 percent, faster than many key technology hubs across the country, including Silicon Valley. Demand for software/application developers climbed nearly 114 percent. Report data reveals that the relative demand-to-job ratio is approximately one posting for every two jobs.

In manufacturing, demand (postings) for skilled trades increased 94 percent, as the manufacturing sector maintains its lead as the top contributor to Gross Regional Product. Demand overall for engineering increased by 103 percent, with demand for mechanical engineers, in particular, topping all other occupational demand in the region. According to the report, the relative demand-to-job ratio is approximately 3 postings for every 20 jobs for skilled trades and technicians and 1 posting for every 3 jobs for engineers and drafters.

Though manufacturing is still the region’s greatest economic driver and wealth creator, health care has overtaken the sector as the largest employer in the region. From 2007 to 2012, job postings increased nearly 29 percent. The report illustrates that the relative demand-to-job ratio is approximately 1 posting for every 10 jobs.

Primary Challenges

Though skilled trades demand in Southeast Michigan is the highest in the nation, the report indicates that the number of skilled and experienced workers in the region is projected to continue to decline due to an aging workforce, significant challenges in youth employment opportunities and lost state and regional population (amounting to a decline of 200,000 in the past 10 years). The issue is compounded by other factors, including insufficient potential employees acquiring the necessary skills, education and experience to support these critical fields at their extremely rapid growth rates. These dynamics could undermine growth in each of the region’s growing occupational clusters if left unaddressed.

Recommendations

Among the recommendations addressed in the report to overcome these barriers is a focus on career/tech education and a review of how educational requirements may conflict with regional employer needs, including how to solve that disconnect now and in the future. Other recommendations urge further alignment among talent partners, government and employers to better identify talent trends; improved sharing of data with students and jobseekers about real job and skills demand in the region; and greater awareness of the diverse services that Michigan Works! Agencies and community colleges have to offer employers and jobseekers.

Key to these solutions is collaboration as WIN’s education and talent partners work together to gather and analyze real-time data in order to identify emerging employment opportunities and create and align programs to prepare workers with the appropriate skills. WIN’s Michigan Works! Agency partners took a step in this direction, signing a memorandum of understanding that creates a formal talent district that aligns with WIN’s 9-county area.

“The model of cooperation and partnerships between employer and educational institution is a game-changer, vital to our success,” said Katz. “Every government entity, employer, educational institution, jobseeker and talent partner can and needs to take steps to create a more flexible and responsive talent system, including sharing information and working more collaboratively for the region.”

ABOUT WORKFORCE INTELLIGENCE NETWORK OF SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN

The Workforce Intelligence Network of Southeast Michigan (WIN) is a collaborative effort between eight community colleges and seven Michigan Works! Agencies, in partnership with numerous other organizations, to create a comprehensive and cohesive workforce development system in Southeast Michigan that provides employers with the talent they need for success.

WIN covers a 9-county area, including Genesee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Shiawassee, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne. WIN was founded with the support of the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan and publicly launched in November 2011.

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WIN partners:

Colleges
Macomb Community College Monroe County Community College Mott Community College Oakland Community College Schoolcraft College
St. Clair County Community College Washtenaw Community College Wayne County Community College District

Michigan Works! Agencies
Detroit Employment Solutions Corp. Genesee/Shiawassee Michigan Works! Agency
Livingston County Michigan Works! Macomb/St. Clair Michigan Works! Oakland County Michigan Works! Southeast Michigan Community Alliance Washtenaw County Michigan Works!

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