Our Priorities

Invest in people

Businesses go where the talent is based. Michigan is in a race with other states for talented people to fill jobs. The availability of highly skilled and educated workers will make the difference between states that excel and those that fall behind in the decades ahead. The state has made progress in recent years, including adoption of a goal to get 60% of working-age Michiganders to have a credential or a college degree by 2030. 

Talent development programs, such as Michigan Reconnect and local Promise programs, are achieving positive results. But with an aging population, lagging labor force participation, degree/certificate attainment and net talent migration, now is the time to develop additional opportunities for adult learners to get degrees or certificates to better position them for the jobs of the future.

Dad and children and group of college kids

Key National Metrics


In Net Talent Migration (High School or Higher)


In Percent with Higher Education Degree or Certification


In Labor Force Participation

2022 Business Leaders for Michigan Board Retreat 2
Why It Matters

Attracting and training workers for knowledge-based and highly skilled technical jobs of the future is imperative for Michigan to compete and grow.

Talent impacts economic competitiveness. Site Selector Magazine survey ranking “Most important reason businesses choose a location:”

  1. Workforce availability & quality

  2. Transportation infrastructure

  3. Workforce pipeline
Making Progress

Creating more inclusive pathways to high-wage, high-demand careers.

  • Michigan Reconnect: Michiganders ages 21+ without a college degree may attend in-district community college tuition-free or receive a discount to attend out-of-district community college Promise
  • Scholarships: Tuition-free path in some local school districts for trade, two-year and four-year credentials at Michigan colleges
Woman using virtual reality equipment
Photo provided by The Right Place and the Economic Development Department of Grand Rapids

We must

act now

Michigan is expected to lose over 100K working age individuals in the next 10 years

Workforce Population


The Data is Not Available

Labor Force Participation Rate

No Data Found

  • We experienced a -4% gap during the Great Recession (December 2007 – June 2009)
  • We are experiencing a -2.5% gap coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic

Recommendations to Invest In People

Remove barriers to economic success for Michiganders to enter the workforce and progress in their career

  • Promote skills-based hiring: Advance skills-based hiring as a tool for employers to fill talent gaps and re-engage those out of the workforce

    • Standardize competencies across industries

  • Expand pathways to employment: Increase pathways for those with disabilities, veterans, returning citizens and other nontraditional groups

  • Improve access to transportation: Expand access to affordable and reliable transportation systems (including mass transit) and reduce costs to motorists through infrastructure investments

  • Support driver’s license reform: Decouple driver’s license suspension from non-safety related fees and penalties
  • Improve childcare options: Remove childcare as barrier to workforce engagement and career progression

  • Create more affordable and middle-market housing: Expand affordable and accessible housing options

  • Enact professional licensing reform: Enact common sense licensing reform (e.g., interstate licensing reciprocity, licensing to restrict entry, etc.)

  • Support criminal justice reform: Adopt evidence-based practices that eliminate penalties linked to poverty and socio-economic status and reduce recidivism through vocational training and supports in and out of correctional facilities

Improve connections between learning and careers to ensure individuals have quality jobs and employers have access to talent

  • Expand career and work exposure: Increase opportunities for high school and college students to participate in school-to-work transition experiences

  • Drive additional career navigation support: Provide access to quality advising and coaching support for individuals to make informed career decisions

  • Track results of training providers: Require training providers, community colleges and universities to track graduate placement results, job provider satisfaction and non-degree outcomes

  • Streamline and sustain employer engagement: Increase ability to easily coordinate with employers at every level of the talent pipeline to ensure programs meet employer needs and minimize redundancy

  • Improve community college and training systems: Implement flexible post-secondary systems that are nimble and responsive to evolving economic needs of employers and on demand systems to address talent gaps

Southern states leapfrog Michigan Michigan has been passed by Georgia and Kentucky in the past 10 years in terms of educational attainment, and Tennessee is catching up

Educational attainment rate

No Data Found

Increase number of workers with high-demand credentials, degrees and skills to improve income and quality of life for Michiganders

Female college student standing in front of university with books
  • Increase post-secondary degree attainment: Additional funding for adult college tuition programs (e.g., Michigan Reconnect, local Promise programs, etc.)

    • Re-engage the 1 million Michiganders with some college/no degree to increase two- and four-year completion

    • Engage those who have not gone to college

  • Expand GoingPro: Support additional employer-driven up-skilling programs for individuals tied to progression in their careers

  • Drive high-value skills: Broaden availability of pre-apprenticeship programs, apprenticeships and high-value certificates and micro-credentials

  • Improve college completion: Provide additional student success/coaching programs and wraparound services

Attract and retain workers to Michigan to grow our population and talent base

  • Advertise quality of life: Broaden the Pure Michigan campaign to include talent attraction and business attraction

  • Provide best-in-class attraction activities: Enhance regional talent recruitment and retention activities such as training partner programs, ambassador programs, etc.

  • Increase legal immigration: Advocate for pro-immigration state and federal policies, particularly for highly skilled workers, that remove barriers to work for immigrants and make Michigan and its regions attractive and welcoming

  • Keep more graduates in Michigan: Identify and support programs to retain our college and university graduates

  • Provide more internships: Use experiential internships to attract and retain young talent
Residents visiting a farm or orchard in Michigan
Photo provided by Visit Detroit