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Talent Management

The need for greater STEM resources in Michigan

By Brandon Mason

Page 27

While automotive manufacturing has played a big part in Michigan’s ongoing economic recovery (Michigan assembled 1.91 million vehicles in 2011, accounting for 22.6 percent 1 of U.S. production, by far the most of any state), there have also been significant developments in the sector related to the research & development of new technologies focused on improving fuel economy, safety, and vehicle design.  New opportunities across the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields (STEM) are increasing every day, but there remains serious concern around whether or not there will be enough applicants to meet industry demand, both now and in the future.

There is little debate regarding the growing need in these fields, but a fundamental gap exists between supply and demand.  If we again look to the automotive sector in Michigan, there are hundreds of unfilled engineering positions, requiring automakers desperate for qualified candidates to scour the country in order to meet their needs, and they’re still coming up short.  Michigan will need to fill approximately 274,000 STEM-related jobs by 2018. 2 While this is indeed an encouraging outlook, prompt action will be needed in order to meet this anticipated demand.

To build a supply base of qualified candidates for these in-demand, high-paying jobs, there must be greater collaboration between the education system and the private sector.  Starting early is key to success.  Students need to be made aware of the many exciting opportunities that exist in the STEM fields, particularly here in Michigan, and it’s up to both educators and businesses to promote them.  Providing cutting-edge and rewarding opportunities will ultimately grow and preserve locally developed talent, while simultaneously slowing the exodus of resources to other markets.  The future is bright, but we must act now in order to reach our full potential.

1 PwC Autofacts Analysis

2 Georgetown University Center of Education and the Workforce, “Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018.”  June 2010, cited in Michigan STEM Partnership, “STEMconnector” 2011.