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The Problem

Michigan's workforce pipeline is in trouble!

The number of individuals completing degrees or certifications falls far short of the number of postings for jobs in many fields.

*Source: Burning Glass and IPEDS, WIN analysis

In 2017:

20.6% of health care
job postings required a
bachelor’s degree 

50.6% of IT
job postings required a
bachelor’s degree

68.4% of engineering/design
job postings required a
bachelor’s degree

42.6% of skilled trades
job postings required a
high school diploma

Employers are looking for workers with experience, but Michigan students are not getting it.

With few entry-level jobs available and current workers delaying retirement, first-time or transitional employment has been pushed back for many job seekers. Michigan ranks 42nd in the nation for unemployment among those 16-24 years old, and 20th in labor force participation for the same demographic. That means while students are told to pursue internships or other opportunities to gain work experience, many do not know how to connect with employers. If Michigan does not bridge this gap, it will fall behind as youth in other states gain the experience employers desire.


16.9% of Michigan youth aged 16-24 are unemployed, compared to the national best of 5.3%

61.7% of Michigan youth aged 16-24 participate in the labor force, compared to the national best of 71.3%

Students do not know about career opportunities and counselors do not have time to help.

Counselors in Michigan are overwhelmed by a growing list of responsibilities, and many are unable to spend the time they would like with students discussing jobs and their projected growth.

As a result, many students graduate without learning:

  • What jobs are in-demand in their region and the education and skills needed to secure one
  • How to engage in high-demand careers with good salaries and little-to-no student debt
  • Which 4-year degrees are in-demand and can lead to well paying jobs

Without proper insight into the labor market, students pursue careers with poor prospects and uncertain security.

With overburdened counselors not always able to help students discover in-demand occupations, many students complete their Educational Development Plans (EDP) by saving jobs that are either trendy or seen on TV. Saving an occupation to an EDP indicates a student is seriously considering pursuing it after high school. Many of the career paths students save are often difficult to enter or are low paying, while there are many jobs available in Michigan that both pay well and are in high demand.

Without a clear career goal, young people do not apply themselves to school or job training.

Brookings Institution research shows that young people are more likely to persist in their education, both through high school and beyond, if they see the relevance of their academic experiences to real-world work demands. Evidence also shows that a lack of awareness of career opportunities can lead many post-secondary job seekers to drop out of job training programs.

What can we do?

A complex problem requires a complete solution.
Learn more about the MI Bright Future solution