Recently the Lansing State Journal ran a terrific editorial about the future of the mid Michigan economy. You can find it as an attachment below.
Its message is applicable to the entire state. Its quite simple: job growth and particularly good-paying jobs from today forward are increasingly knowledge-based. They site two companies – one in software development, the other in alternative energy – which, even in the terrible downturn, have job openings but can’t find workers with the right skills.
When the economy improves and job growth resumes it will be concentrated in the knowledge-based economy. Not just high tech but also sectors like health care; education; finance and insurance; and professional and technical services. This has been the trend for the past two decades. And its accelerating. There is no turning back the clock to a prosperous factory-based Michigan.
There is a real risk – as hard as it to imagine today with such high unemployment – that the biggest impediment to future economic growth in the state will be skill shortages. Not enough workers able to do the high skill/high pay jobs of the future.
The editorial goes on the argue that skill development – what we call preparing talent – should be central to the state’s economic growth strategy. That means making higher education funding a priority rather than one of the first items cut as it has been for the past decade.
The evidence is clear from around the country: the most high prosperous places will be those with the greatest concentration of talent from anywhere on the planet. So that Michigan’s economic growth priority one is to prepare, retain and attract talent. As the LSJ editorial points out supporting Michigan’s terrific system of higher education should be a big part of that strategy.