Lisa Katz| Crain’s Detroit Blog
Before the store even opened, people were lining up for the recent opening of Whole Foods Inc. in Detroit. Bringing the new chain into the city has been symbolic of Detroit’s ongoing transition as an uber-cool destination for young, smart hipsters craving the ultimate urban experience.
Richard Florida, author of Rise of the Creative Class, would be proud. He’s been a major advocate of place-based economic development strategies, essentially creating vibrant cities that are magnets for talent. Wide acceptance of this view has led to a global upsurge in place-making strategies, including in Southeast Michigan.
Recently, however, the Detroit Regional Chamber announced the results of a study that surveyed 7,054 May 2012 graduates from 15 public universities in Michigan. The study explored how many college graduates stay in state (63% stay, 37% leave), where they go (18.7% to Illinois, 10.2% to California, 9.1% to New York), and why the leave.
On this last point, the study found that among those in the target group who reside outside of Michigan, 85% left for career opportunities, while 38% left for urban experiences. In looking for their next job, 86% said they would prefer a job somewhere they would like to live, while 56% said they would simply look for the best job, regardless of location.
So, here’s my message to college graduates: Southeast Michigan has jobs. There were more than 300,000 job postings last year across a variety of fields, including but certainly not limited to health care (29,800 postings), advanced manufacturing (29,000 postings for engineers, 12,500 for technicians and related fields) and information technology (40,400 postings for those with IT skills plus many more for business analysts, project managers, and numerous other positions suitable for non-techies).
Interestingly, we seem to be graduating people with these skillsets. Arguably, there are not enough, and about 1/3 are still leaving the region for opportunities in other places (and most lack crucial experience). But all of this points to the need for us to better connect young people — from grade school to college — to information and hands-on experiences related to jobs that are growing in our region. Young people with strong career exposure are proven statistically to have higher educational attainment and graduation rates, and now we know they may be more likely to live and work here.
|Health professions, related programs
|Business, management, marketing, related support services
|Liberal arts and sciences, general studies and humanities
|Computer and information sciences, support services
|Visual and performing arts
|Engineering technologies, engineering-related fields
|Personal, culinary services
Southeast Michigan is on the cusp of some exciting redevelopment opportunities — we cannot afford to let one talented person slip through our fingers. So while we work hard to create cool places in which to live and work, let’s make it a priority to share with young people the actual work opportunities. And let’s not just tell them — let’s show them, through internships, mentoring, job shadowing, presentations in schools, social media, and more. It turns out that these simple steps could prove even more important to our region’s economic and talent development.
Maybe even more so than Whole Foods.