Print Friendly and PDF

As Detroit Region Grows, Nurturing People, Emerging Industries Will Be Key

At the Detroit Regional Chamber’s fifth annual State of the Region, Prof. Willy C. Shih of Harvard Business School presented a keynote address on what regions need to do to thrive in the 21st century. Specifically, he discussed investing in skills training for employees to ensure they have the skills for the jobs of tomorrow.

After Shih’s presentation, Devin Scillian, anchor for WDIV-TV 4, joined him on stage for a discussion on the Detroit region.

What does the region need to do to succeed? Data presented in the 2018-2019 State of the Region report shows a region that has plateaued in many crucial economic indicators. Scillian asked, “How can we continue to grow and exceed our peer regions?”

Offering Skills Training and Education for Employees
Shih again emphasized the need for businesses to invest in the re-education of their employees. Scillian challenged him by asking, “Whose responsibility is it to re-educate the workforce? Does the responsibility fall completely with the employer or is the individual responsible for ensuring their own competitiveness?” New employees are not as likely to stay with one company for their entire career as in the past, so investing in these individuals can be a business risk.

Shih argued that continued education is the responsibility of everyone: the individual and the employer. The individual is tasked with the challenge of keeping their skillset current, but it is within the best interest of an employer to invest in their employees if they hope to retain them.

The Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees initiative is making the business case for investing in employee education. This initiative is removing barriers and providing resources for adults to continue their education.

Embrace Diverse Regional Assets
Another crucial action item Shih urged local businesses to do was pull together the region’s existing assets to brag about the quality work coming out of Detroit. Shih cited the region’s affordable housing, excellent supply-chain network, and a fierce comeback spirit as three attractive assets. He encouraged local business leaders to embrace the diversity of Detroit’s regional industries, including the region’s strong defense industry and growing health care industry, and continuously work to help them grow.

As a supporter of the 11-county region, the Chamber works on economic development initiatives that strengthen the region’s key industries, including the automotive, health care and the defense industries.

Scillian and Shih’s comments were followed by a presentation of key 2018-2019 State of the Region data by Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah.