Maryland's Higher Education System Fuels the Local Economic Workforce
On the evening of May 8, the Baltimore Metro Business Development held a panel discussion on the local economy, inevitably touching on the importance of quality higher education for a growing economy and how Maryland’s universities are helping to fuel a strong workforce for the region. This workforce, in turn, creates ample opportunities for companies and organizations that are looking to expand in regions that offer a young, talented pool of candidates.
Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore (EAGB) President and CEO, Shannon Landwehr, moderated; panelists included Claudia Jolin of the Downtown Partnership, Dr. Daraius Irani of the Regional Economic Studies Institute at Towson University, Tom Sadowski of the University System of Maryland, and Dr. Lindsay Thompson of Johns Hopkins University and CityLabs USA.
The University System of Maryland alone produces 80% of the state’s graduates each year, with about 80% of the student body coming from within the state itself. Last month, Governor Larry Hogan announced he will sign a bill offering free community college education to thousands of Marylanders, creating even more opportunities for state residents to advance their education and pursue high-level jobs.
“The Maryland that we know, and love today would not be so without the University System of Maryland,” said Sadowski at the panel discussion in May.
In a recent press release, Governor Hogan stated, “Working to make higher education affordable and accessible for as many Maryland students as possible is one of our top priorities. Each dollar we provide to our students for their education is an investment in our economy and our state’s future. As we continue to expand access to education, we strengthen our workforce and help both Maryland citizens and businesses grow and succeed.”
The regional colleges and universities—and the programs and degrees they offer—have really driven Maryland’s economic competitiveness. Maryland is ranked third nationally in advanced degrees and fourth in the number of bachelor’s degrees conferred. Over the last five years, the number of computer and math degree holders has increased by 16%—the second fastest rate of any large metro, behind only Seattle. Occupations within these fields have increased by 30%.
These statistics speak volumes. Through our “Why Baltimore” segment on WYPR, we have repeatedly heard from regional leaders in industries like education, cyber, and biohealth that Greater Baltimore’s talented workforce is one of the most important reasons they decided to set roots here.
Late last year, five CEOs met with President Obama to bring attention to the importance of nurturing startup communities outside the traditional hubs of San Francisco, New York, and Boston. One of the CEOs was Jacob Hsu, who relocated from Silicon Valley to Baltimore in January 2017 to become the CEO of Catalyte, a software development company that excels at hiring “non-traditional” employees for careers in technology. Hsu said that he was overwhelmed by the talent found here, as well as the proximity to high-ranking federal employees—an opportunity that doesn’t exist in the Bay Area.
Proximity to resources, top tier research institutions, and top ranked universities are among some of the major reasons Baltimore has a robust talent pool. Baltimore is also known for its entrepreneurial spirit, and innovation is accelerated when higher education is dedicated to the ongoing success of an entire state.