Filling the Talent Gap

Filling the Talent Gap presents first of its kind data on international student retention in Michigan. The research underlying this report demonstrated powerful growth in utilization of the OPT portion of international student status in Michigan and offers several encouraging signs about international student retention in Michigan.

Key findings:

  • Hiring of international students from GTRI universities through the OPT program by Michigan employers grew more than 80% over the past four years;
  • The number of international students studying in Michigan grew 32.2% over the past five years and now tops 32,000 and represents over $1 billion in annual economic activity;
  • 40-70% of all the graduate students in the U.S. studying in STEM-related fields are international students (70.3% of electrical engineering, 63.2% of computer science); and
  • The international students using OPT from GTRI universities have mostly attained graduate degrees (82%) and predominate STEM fields (68%), making them some of the world’s most valuable workers.

Filling the Talent Gap: Solutions to Hiring the Best and Brightest

“Data like this is more than impressive. We know that utilizing international students rather than allowing positions to go unfilled helps companies compete and grow. And while our region is leading the nation in helping employers to consider international talent for hard-to-fill positions, more needs to be done.”

Sandy BaruahPresident and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber

Press Release

July 12, 2016, Detroit, Michigan—Corporate and regional economic leaders joined university officials to learn about the Michigan Global Talent Retention Initiative’s (GTRI) data on international student retention in Michigan.

GTRI is well poised to tackle thei opportunities in collaboration with local universities and employers.  The barriers to more effective utilization of international student talent that could help make Southeast Michigan a global leader in talent are more artificial than legal.  Building awareness of the tremendous underutilization of international talent that plays such an integral part to the STEM academic programs, especially on the graduate level, at Michigan colleges and universities (as well as those across the nation) is the first step.  Addressing the cultural barriers and misinformation that prevent more area employers from considering international talent is a second step.  A third step centers on helping international students to better understand the culture of the American business community and workplace.  Finally, we must focus on creating a robust array of opportunities for international students to build relationships with our region and its professional and international communities.

Filling the Talent Gap is an update to GTRI’s 2013 study of the use of the Optional Practical Training (OPT) portion of international student visas at seven key Michigan universities.

This report would not have been possible without the partnership and support from the international student offices at GTRI’s participating universities – University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Eastern Michigan University, Lawrence Technological University, University of Michigan-Dearborn, and Oakland University. Additionally, we are extremely grateful to the New Economy Initiative for their financial support and partnership.