DETROIT – Online job postings in Michigan between January 2013 and May 2014 showed a need for nearly 47,000 engineering and design workers with bachelor degrees, but only 5,000 degrees were awarded in the state in these areas of study. Similar trends are present in the other industries tracked; postings in IT for candidates with bachelor degrees exceeded 72,000, with only 1,800 graduates attaining this degree. In health care, almost 31,000 postings indicated a requirement for a graduate degree, but fewer than 5,000 workers in the region have attained this level of education.

Employers are looking for workers with experience, but students are struggling to find the opportunities to gain experience.

High unemployment rates and delayed retirements have pushed back first-time or transitional employment for many jobseekers, leading to a 18.7 percent drop in employment of Metro Detroit 16-19 year olds from 2000-2012, down to 27.4 percent from 46.1 percent. Only 62.3 percent of individuals in the 20-24 year old age bracket are employed, putting the region in the 78th percentile, or worst 22 percent of regions in the U.S.

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

Many of the most in-demand jobs are related to STEM fields, yet beyond some health care positions that remained stable through the recession, most students and jobseekers are generally unfamiliar with viable, in-demand career opportunities. The perception of manufacturing jobs as low-tech, low skill, dirty, or unstable has served as a deterrent for students, parents and teachers. This lack of career awareness, coupled with stresses in the educational environment for both students and counselors, has resulted in low enrollment in degree and certificate programs related to the region’s most in-demand careers.

Leaky pipelines in career development will lead to higher unemployment for graduating students.

Brookings Institution research shows that young people are more likely to persist in their education, both through high school and into college, if they see the relevance of their academic experience to real-world work experience. Some individuals may drop out of training due to lack of a full awareness of real career opportunities.

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