The E-Harmony of internships -- matching employers with young talent in Michigan
Editor's note: The stock photograph used with the column has been removed due to several comments that were posted about it.
Perhaps the only thing worse than Michigan's "brain drain" -- losing young professionals and college graduates for greener pastures than Michigan -- is the uneducated youth staying behind.
Michigan cannot "reinvent" itself to be competitive on the global stage without retaining and being a magnet for young professionals who possess the training and education, coupled with an entrepreneurial and pioneering spirit.
There is a clear mismatch between large number of unemployed and employers seeking skilled employees.
Wendy Pittman, executive director of Intern in Michigan, and her team have learned a great deal about why young, skilled workers leave Michigan. They are putting that knowledge to work.
There are literally hundreds of companies looking for college-educated talent even as thousands of students seek internship opportunities to gain valuable experience. I view Intern in Michigan as the ultimate matchmaker, helping to connect business with interns and vice-versa.
Citing the National Association of Colleges and Employers, Pittman says companies converted 58 percent of their interns into full-time employees last year and about 83 percent of students stay in the region where they intern. Simply put, students stay where they are wanted and there are opportunities.
We know that if our youth leave the state, recruiting them to come back becomes exponentially more difficult not to mention expensive. It is reported that over the last 10 years, nearly 50 percent of college graduates left the mitten state to find employment elsewhere. Sadly, for parents and the economic vitality of our state, we know most of them are unlikely to return.
A quality internship is a proven strategy for keeping our youth in Michigan.
Talent is the 21st century commodity that will drive the global economy.
Lou Glazer, president of Michigan Future has been beating that drum for over a decade, saying, "Talent matters!"
If we want to have a prosperous Michigan we need an educated citizenry.
Connect the dots. Since its launch in November 2012, Intern in Michigan has posted more than 2,000 internship opportunities at more than 900 companies throughout Michigan. These internships are as diverse as is the range of companies that span our great state.
Not only is Intern in Michigan helping to keep young Michigan talent in Michigan, its acts as a talent magnet as well. To date, 10,000 students from colleges and universities throughout the country have registered at www.interninmichigan.com seeking meaningful internship opportunities.
Gov. Rick Snyder realizes there is a mismatch between employers seeking employees and workers seeking jobs and has put technology to use, creating www.mitalent.com at Pure Michigan Talent Connect.
Pittman is looking to partner with, business associations, chambers of commerce, government agencies, and employers large and small to help to spread the word that "hiring interns in Michigan will create a strong foundation for reversing the brain drain."
How very right she is!
Our Michigan motto has always been "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you." We all need to do our part to keep our youth, our future, here at home.
There is a growing recognition that Michigan is prospering again. For three years running, Michigan has had more plant and expansion projects than any other state in the nation.
Working together, with "relentless positive action" we can reverse the brain drain, match employees with employers, and provide a solid foundation to continue rebuilding state we love to call home.
Wendy Pittman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tom Watkins served as Michigan's state superintendent of schools from 2001 to 2005 and as president and CEO of the economic council of Palm Beach County, Fla., from 1996 to 2001. He is a U.S.-China business and educational consultant. He can be reached at email@example.com.