I wrote about the Talent Dividend summit a couple of days ago. Now I’d like to tell you what I learned there.
If Pittsburgh focussed on increasing the number of residents with four year college degrees by just 1%, we’d reap an annual dividend, the “Talent Dividend”, of $1.8 billion dollars. $1.8 billion dollars is the equivalent to the payroll of a very very large company. This is not an argument for education. This is an argument for economic development.
Currently Pittsburgh sits in the bottom one-third of 50 metro areas in four year college attainment rates. I’m sure you know the cities that sit at the top of the list. They are cities that thrive and continue to attract talent. Those cities are Washington, San Jose, San Francisco, Boston, Raleigh, Austin, Minneapolis and Seattle. Talent begets talent.
What benefits would we gain from a better educated population? First, higher median incomes across the board, with an approximate increase of $2000 per household per annum. Second, lower unemployment rates, since unemployment rates are always higher with less education.
Our best opportunity for achieving the Talent Dividend, may lie in several areas. First, we have many expatriate Pittsburghers who would like to return. Second, we may be able to do a better job retaining the talent we have. Can we do a better job match making people to jobs that are available? There are currently 17,000 positions posted on imaginemynewjob.com, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliances new job site. That’s a lot of vacant jobs! Third, there are a large group of people who started college and did not finish. Who are they? How can we help them attain that four year college degree?
There are important initiatives, such as the Pittsburgh Promise, that are underway and will help us to reach this 1% increase. It will take focus to find other ways to get there.