Talent Dividend Work

A focus on increasing college graduates -- and keeping them here

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Detroit is taking a three-"bucket" approach to solving the talent puzzle in Michigan. They're focusing on access to college. They're focusing on student success in college. And they're focusing on retaining those graduates once they've earned their degrees -- a defining feature of Detroit's Talent Dividend initiatives, and one that sets them apart from the pack. 
At least for the past 50 years, Detroit's workforce has been concentrated in the automotive industry. Historically, those jobs never required a college degree. Communicating the importance of getting a college degree in a changing economy is therefore a key strategy of Detroit’s Talent Dividend initiatives.
The Michigan College Access Network aims to increase college attainment from 36.4% to 60% statewide by 2025. In the Detroit metro area, they're working with Local College Access Networks (LCANs) to lower the barriers that prevent students from pursuing a postsecondary education. Thanks to a FAFSA completion effort driven by the LCANs, Michigan saw a $414 million increase in Pell Grant draw-down in just one year (2010-2011). Recent research ranks Michigan first in growing college participation among low-income students.
Regional employers complain of "brain drain," the phenomenon of Michigan's most talented people leaving the state when they graduate -- and leaving thousands of jobs unfilled. But Michigan's talent complains that there are no jobs here. So connecting the dots (and the data) between students, colleges and universities, and employers is a crucial step toward developing Southeast Michigan’s talent pipeline. 
One effort toward that end is the Workforce Intelligence Network, a first-of-its-kind partnership between eight community colleges, seven workforce boards and regional economic development partners. 
"There are jobs here, and we have the data for it, and we can show you where they are," says Lisa Baragar Katz, WIN’s executive director. "We're working with employers to make sure our educational institutions are aligned with where those jobs are." 
And groups like Intern in Michigan, LiveWorkDetroit! and the Global Talent Retention Initiative are working to give recent grads the tools to get their foot in the door and start working here.
"We want to make sure Detroit's college graduates don't become part of New York's Talent Dividend," says Greg Handel, Senior Director of Workforce Development for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Source: Greg Handel, Detroit Regional Chamber
Writer: Amy Elliott Bragg

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