Governor's Economic Summit: 'Talent gap' the focus as Gov. Rick Snyder's first-ever economic summit begins in Detroit
Courtney Sacco I AnnArbor.com
Business leaders and job seekers may want to pay attention to Gov. Rick Snyder’s first economic summit, which begins Monday morning in Detroit. The governor has presented the forum as a first step towards tackling a structural skills gap that he said is plaguing the state.
“This is a hands-on, working summit that will prepare Michigan for the opportunities that await in our global economy,” Snyder said in a statement.
“It will challenge our business, education and economic development leaders to focus on new ways of providing meaningful job opportunities as we help meet the pressing talent needs of our employers.”
At the summit, employers and economic development professionals will attempt to determine the extent of the talent gap and identify possible solutions.
Snyder has repeatedly pointed to the more than 63,000 open positions on the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s job engine mitalent.org as evidence that one of the economy’s major challenges is matching the state’s talent to those positions.
Bridge Magazine found recently that some economists question that view, noting that a shortage of talent should have increased wages across the state in order to make these positions more attractive. Although the state’s per capita income rose more quickly than most other states' in 2011, it still remains below pre-recession levels, with more than one quarter of Michigan workers in low-wage jobs.
In the Ann Arbor area, comparatively higher wages would appear to support the governor's claim of a talent gap. Economic forecasters found in 2012 that high-wage jobs represent the fastest growing sector in the local economy.
As Michigan searches for employees to fill current job openings, an aging workforce will create even more job demand as baby boomers begin to retire. This reality, coupled with young college graduates continuing to leave the state for major urban centers such as Chicago and New York City, means that a real or perceived structural skills gap could get worse before it gets better.
This conference is the first-ever prequel to the 18th annual governor's education summit, which will be held next month.
Snyder first announced the summit at AnnArbor.com’s Deals of the Year event in November. He said then that aligning jobs with education is crucial and that he hopes to establish the needs of businesses at the forum so they can be addressed at April’s educators meeting.
Reporters from AnnArbor.com and MLive.com will be in Detroit for the summit Monday and Tuesday, bringing you live updates throughout each day. You can check the AnnArbor.com business page for updates from the event, which includes a series of keynote speakers and breakout brainstorming sessions grouped by economic region and industry.
If you have specific questions you’d like to see answered, please follow along in our Live Chat that will start at 9 a.m. where you can interact with MLive business reporters from across the state as we analyze statements and plans that take shape at the event.