We were disappointed Amazon didn’t select Detroit among the list of finalist cities for its second headquarters. Reports are that Amazon felt our state lacked the depth and quality of talent they needed. Our own benchmarking studies verify this. Michigan ranks 29th for the percentage of our high school graduates deemed college or career ready, 32nd for the percentage of our workforce with a technical education, 30th in overall education attainment and 47th attracting out-of-state college students to attend school here. What’s more is that the test scores of our K-12 students are getting worse relative to other states, not better.
The Amazon decision should rally us to work harder, much harder, to produce the talent we need to create good jobs. That means improving our K-12 and job training systems and making college education more affordable. Our K-12 system needs greater accountability, a respite from constant changes to standards and assessments, more support for teachers and actions that direct more funding to the classroom. Michigan’s job training system should emulate best practices followed by other states that do a better job of providing customized, on-demand training. Finally, higher education should be a higher budget priority with all new funding allocated based on performance to keep tuition affordable.
We know what we need to do to solve the problem. Will we?
President & Chief Executive Officer
Business Leaders for Michigan