International Students Key to Michigan’s Economic Growth

The Global Talent Retention Initiative [GTRI] of Southeast Michigan is a wonderful model pointing to the convergence of interests among educators, academic institutions, and industry –all working together towards the economic revitalization of the state. And it illustrates the critical contribution of international students whose career choices and areas of study are highly correlated with job opportunities in the marketplace.

The GTRI is a joint effort of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. The program director states, “So we’re launching an aggressive new effort to help Michigan-based companies fill jobs in the STEM fields with talented engineers from overseas. We think this effort will pay for itself immediately because these employers will have the talent they need to win new contracts and immediately contribute to the Michigan tax base with improved profits and income tax generation.”  Fast-paced economic growth in the health care, computer and engineering sectors, coupled with a shortage of domestic students graduating with degrees in the high-demand science, technology, engineering and math fields, has created a significant percentage of jobs in Michigan that employers are unable to fill, threatening further economic growth and their ability to compete.

 “The fact that there just aren’t enough American-born students earning degrees in the STEM fields means that there is a significant mismatch between degrees granted and available jobs. Programs such as GTRI’s are critically important for connecting businesses with the talent they need to grow and remain globally competitive.” 

The GTRI is a product of the Global Detroit Study about the impact of immigrant talent on the region’s economy. In collaboration with seven partner universities, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Michigan’s economic development agencies, and ethnic chambers and organizations in Southeast Michigan, GTRI provides international students and local employers with training and resources on relevant immigration regulations, finding a job and working in the Detroit area, and many cross-cultural issues that both employers and international applicants may experience during the hiring process.

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