Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

The Clash Between an Unstable and an Emerging Workforce

As we continue to deal with our workforce development challenges in this state, many people have been worried about the so-called “Brain Drain.” Reports have been flying over the past few years that Michigan is losing its best and brightest to other states because the opportunities for gainful employment reside elsewhere.

Last year, the Michigan Business Report published by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) noted that, “Yes, young people are leaving Michigan. Data from 2000 to 2005 show the state has been losing more than 14,000 college graduates, ages 22–26, per year. However, while those young people are leaving, nearly 14,000 graduates from other states and nearly 3,000 from other countries are coming into Michigan. For the 22–34 age group as a whole, Michigan has gained more college graduates from other states than it has lost.”

Yes, a lot has changed since last year. OK, to be completely honest, epic change has occurred since last year. But therein lies the point and the opportunity. As Michigan’s economy continues in this state of flux, individuals now have the chance to re-invent themselves and the infrastructure in which they will work for decades to come.

In a recent article in the Huffington Post, ( a West coast venture capitalist, Jeff Bocan, touted his excitement at moving to Michigan from sunny California. In his opinion,

“The opportunity does not lie in saving General Motors, rather in giving primarily non-automotive related entrepreneurs and technologists the capital and market access to enable their companies to achieve their fullest potential. Knowledge-based and high-growth sectors like clean tech, life sciences, and health care are perfectly suited for Michigan’s deep engineering, research, and advance manufacturing base (a welcome legacy of the automotive industry), not to mention the ample natural resources of the state, notably fresh water, wind currents, vast forests, and agricultural lands — valuable assets for a ‘greening’ U.S. and global economy.”

Bocan seems pretty optimistic about the future of the workforce. So how about those of us that have been struggling in this quagmire for months and even years now? The Californian’s response to that question is this,

“The turnaround of the Michigan economy will not occur overnight; however, the challenges brought by the current economic crisis are inspiring an entrepreneurial surge that I expect will engender a long term, diversified and sustainable rebirth of the economy.”

Bocan may have something here and I hope he is right. Perhaps, the key to our future success begins with a change of our personal mindset. Instead of looking to work in a job like we once had, maybe we need to take a more entrepreneurial approach to our careers, creating new opportunities based upon our past experience and business acumen.

If you go, you will be gone. If you stay, you will definitely become part of the great changes already in process. I find either prospect both scary and exciting. How about you?

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