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There are signs of economic recovery all around Detroit. Just one year after emerging from bankruptcy, tax revenues are increasing and the city posted a budget surplus in 2015. The fficial unemployment rate has fallen to 10.7%, and housing prices are on the rise in many neighborhoods. Midtown and Downtown Detroit are crowded with construction activity, including the M1 light rail system and the Red Wings hockey stadium, with additional large infrastructure projects on deck. After the upheaval of the Great Recession and transformations brought on by longer-term structural shifts in the labor market, these indicators of economic vitality are very welcome. But there is still much work to do. To keep this momentum going and ensure that economic expansion improves the lives of all Detroit residents, it is critical to invest in the skills the city needs to compete and prosper. Detroit’s workers, job seekers, businesses, education and training institutions, and government leaders, including the reconstituted Mayor’s Detroit Workforce Development Board, need a workforce development system designed for the realities and challenges of Detroit’s new labor market. Making the best possible decisions about how to build a skilled and competitive workforce will require a comprehensive and data-driven understanding of Detroit’s workforce development assets and opportunities, as well as the challenges it faces.
Access to accurate, easily shared data is an essential resource that helps local and state leaders and practitioners better understand local demographic trends, business and talent development needs, and their choices for investing public and private resources in workforce development initiatives and programs. Furthermore, real-time data and information about workforce development system supply, demand, and resources help local elected officials, workforce development boards, and employers fill their workforce needs; improve access to jobs, training, and career pathways for residents; and increase cost efficiency and relevancy in both public and private sector workforce development program investments. This toolkit is meant to provide a foundation for regions and cities interested in conducting similar workforce development system research and analyses. It is not intended to be a complete guide to collecting, analyzing, and reporting data or to be a roadmap for how to work with policymakers and stakeholders in your region once the data is collected. This toolkit is a starting point for that work.