How Macomb County is preparing today’s talent for tomorrow’s opportunity

The world around us is changing. Every day we see new technologies, automation and artificial intelligence influencing the economy, and businesses have to adapt to keep pace. With this evolution, we see the workforce changing too. And in late 2017, we began to see the rise of the “new collar” worker.

What is a new collar worker?
We’ve all heard the terms blue-collar job or white-collar job. Today, a new classification of worker is emerging that combines professional knowledge with technical skills. The need is becoming so great that last year, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty coined the term “new collar” worker to describe a role that is between a professional career and a skilled trade. These workers have technical skills and knowledge rooted in higher education. The roles they fill are in areas like cybersecurity, data science and artificial intelligence, but some roles have yet to be created. It is estimated that 65 percent of today’s kindergartners will have job titles that do not exist today. All told, a big shift is coming and our young people need to be ready to leave high school career and college ready.

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Macomb County is fueling the talent pipeline
To ready our region for this shift and fuel the talent pipeline, Macomb County is engaging directly with businesses and the next generation of our workforce. We work one-on-one with area employers to connect them to resources and learn about their talent needs. We also collaborate with partners to develop and support initiatives that expose students to career possibilities and point them to educational pathways that lead to meaningful employment. This work includes:

  • The Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development partners with the Macomb Intermediate School District, along with an active planning committee and generous sponsors, to coordinate one of the nation’s largest celebrations of Manufacturing Day (MFG Day). Since 2014, more than 6,500 students have visited a nearby plant to see industry in action and learn about career possibilities.
  • The Department has also partnered with Romeo Community Schools as they work towards becoming Michigan’s first Ford Next Generation Learning community. The newly established Academies of Romeo will enable students to choose a thematic course of study – such as engineering, health care or information technology – and learn in a relevant, hands-on environment. Students learn math, science, English and social studies within the theme they choose.
  • Macomb Community College hosts AUTO Steam Days, a two-day hands-on opportunity for students to explore careers in automotive design, robotics, manufacturing and technology.
  • The Michigan Automotive & Defense Cyber Awareness Team (MADCAT) partners with academia and area U.S. Department of Defense assets to develop a career pathway for high school and college students in cybersecurity.
  • MiCareerQuest Southeast – Michigan Works! offices from across the region host an event for 10,000 students at the Novi Suburban Showplace. This event provides hands-on activities related to career exploration in four quadrants: construction, information technology, advanced manufacturing and health sciences. Involved employers will provide hands-on experiences and sponsorship.

Those are just a few examples of the many programs and partnerships Macomb County is pursuing to fuel our talent pipeline and prepare the next generation workforce for new collar work. Through these efforts, we hope to ensure economic stability in our region for many years to come. But ultimately, our goal is to give our young people the tools they need to succeed and connect their passion with opportunity.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

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Preparing high school students for careers in manufacturing

Macomb County businesses have joined forces to partner with the SME Education Foundation and the Michigan Manufacturers Association to make education opportunities available for students of Fraser High School. Dominion Technologies

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Announcement of the new partnership

Group, I.F. Metalworks, Fori Automation, General Motors, Oakley Industries and Superior Heat Treat LLC will collaborate through SME’s “Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education” (PRIME) initiative to develop and launch an advanced manufacturing education program at Fraser. The program will start in the 2018-19 academic year.

PRIME builds a collaborative network of students, educators and industry professionals to provide high school students with advanced manufacturing career pathways, inspiring and informing their interest and awareness in manufacturing. The national program provides students with practical experience, knowledge and skills using state-of-the-art technology and equipment, while allowing companies to support the career direction of youth through mentoring, internships and job shadowing.

“It started with one phone call: I wanted our schools to be a part of the opportunities the SME Education Foundation PRIME schools initiative provides,” said David M. Richards, PhD, superintendent of Fraser Public Schools. “The support we’ve received from our business community, county government and the state in this quest has been phenomenal; our students and community will benefit as a direct result.”

 

Alliances with local manufacturing associations play a major role in connecting business and education within the manufacturing community. The Fraser Public Schools collaboration is a result of the SME Education Foundation’s partnership with the Michigan Manufacturers Association, which began in 2016 to help boost Michigan’s already strong manufacturing presence and provide much-needed support to an industry seeking a large influx of prepared, qualified young people.

 

About the SME Education Foundation
The SME Education Foundation is committed to inspiring, preparing and supporting the next generation of manufacturing engineers and technologists. Since its creation by SME in 1979, the SME Education Foundation has provided grants, scholarships and awards through its partnerships with corporations, organizations, foundations and individual donors. Each year, the Foundation awards several hundred scholarships to students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering and technology disciplines closely related to manufacturing. The organization also administers scholarship awards on behalf of major corporations connected to manufacturing. Additionally, the Foundation’s PRIME initiative was created to provide high school students with a tailored advanced manufacturing/STEM education.

About the Michigan Manufacturers Association
For 115 years, the MMA has been serving Michigan manufacturers and related industries by providing effective representation at Michigan’s Capitol, timely educational seminars; quality and competitive-rate insurance programs, informational e-newsletters and a monthly magazine.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Macomb County celebrates National Economic Development Week

From May 7 through May 12, the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development (MCPED) will celebrate National Economic Development Week. Created by the International Economic Development Council, the largest professional membership organization for economic developers, the week serves to increase awareness of development programs that enhance local economies.

So what does that really all mean? Well, in the broadest sense, economic development focuses on three major areas:

  • Policies that government undertakes to meet broad economic objectives, including inflation control, high employment and sustainable growth
  • Policies and programs that provide services, including building highways, managing parks and providing medical access to the disadvantaged
  • Policies and programs that are directed at improving the business climate

Essentially, economic development organizations work to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community.

Now you’re probably asking yourself – what does this all mean for Macomb County? And what does MCPED do? In a nutshell, the department helps facilitate public and private investments in the region by providing businesses with free and confidential services, enabling them to thrive and grow.

Since 2014, the department has helped 145 companies invest almost $4.8 billion, creating 16,148 new jobs and retaining 11,267 existing jobs. In 2017 alone, the department reported that its clients invested $417.4 million in new equipment and space while retaining 2,140 jobs and creating 3,729 new ones. Highlights of last year’s investments include:

  • Amazon announced a $70 million investment to build a transportation logistics center in Shelby Township. The 100,000-square-foot building is expected to offer an estimated 1,000 new jobs to the community.
  • Grupo Antolin, an auto supplier headquartered in Spain, invested $63.7 million in Shelby Township to construct a new plant. The suppliers will provide door panels to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for the 2019 Ram pickup truck.
  • St. John Macomb-Oakland Hospital announced a $48.1 million expansion to its Warren Campus. The investment will increase the number of private rooms available to patients.

While those examples deal with larger companies and organizations, it is important to note that the department also works very closely with small-business owners. Ninety-five percent of the businesses in Macomb County are defined as a small business, one that employs fewer than 50 people. Working with the Michigan Small Business Development Center, we offer these owners and entrepreneurs assistance with marketing, financial analysis and planning, strategic planning, management and operations. We act as their partner, helping them succeed.

As you can see, the work done by MCPED is impactful and far-reaching. We take great pride in what we do and will always continue our efforts to enhance the region that we all call home.

Later this week, we will post a piece written by John Paul Rea, director of MCPED. He’ll share some insights into his role as director of the department and give his perspective on what’s on the horizon in Macomb County. Stay tuned for that blog and other posts on our social media accounts and website. We’re excited to celebrate this week and hope you will join in by sharing your thoughts, comments and ideas around economic development in our community. Please post in the comment section below or on Facebook using ##EDW2018 #EconDevWeek #QualityofLife. We’d love to know what you think.

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Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

MADCAT event kicks off NAIAS

As all eyes turn to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show, an elite group met to focus on bringing awareness to the growing need for a skilled cyber workforce. Yesterday, stakeholders for the Michigan Automotive and Defense Cyber Awareness Team (MADCAT) convened at Cobo Hall to discuss the automotive and defense industries aligning for the future cyber generation.

Vicky and gov.Gov. Rick Snyder, a longtime advocate for STEM education, addressed the group. Other notable presenters included Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel and Elaina Farnsworth. The robust professional lineup highlighted that the only viable option is taking an open, collaborative and inclusive approach to preparing for tomorrow today.

Farnsworth, a recognized thought-leader in the space, emphasized that “companies must invest in an educational strategy for both the organization and the workers within it. They must commit to aligning company goals and resources with the proper team members to support that vision.”

Experts estimate over 2 million new jobs will be created within the industry in the next five years. To meet this demand, professionals will need the proper education, training and credentialing within the intelligent transportation space. Many times, companies will need to recruit from within and retrain their existing workers with new and relevant skills.

hackelThe meeting on Thursday was part of an ongoing Cyber Pathways Project launched by MADCAT in 2017. Through a grassroots effort, leaders from the government, education, nonprofit and private sectors formed MADCAT in 2014 to address the growing threat of cybersecurity breaches to our region’s primary industries. MADCAT’s aim is to establish Macomb County as a cybersecurity center of excellence and to attract businesses and institutions that support the development, growth and retention of the talent pool.

For more information or to get involved with the project, visit madcat.org.

Assistance for job seekers and employers available through Michigan Works!

Michigan Works! offers services and programs to those who need help finding a job or training, and we also help employers who need to find qualified workers. We see our “customers” as both job seekers and businesses.

While unique, each Michigan Works! office is locally responsive, demand-driven and governed by a workforce development board. In the Macomb and St. Clair County area, the Macomb-St. Clair Workforce Development Board, Inc. oversees the operation of five Michigan Works! Service Centers. Most of our services and programs are free!

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For job seekers:

For job seekers, we provide many services and programs at no cost that are funded by state and federal programs like the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. If you lack the necessary skills or are thinking of a career change, Michigan Works! can provide assessments and career counseling. If training is needed and you are eligible, we can provide financial aid and support services.

We partner with local community colleges and other proprietary schools that offer training for in-demand careers like accounting, machining/machine tool, engineering, IT, construction, electrical, transportation and health care. At our Michigan Works! Service Centers, we provide free workshops on job search, resume writing, interviewing and the use of social media including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Contact us today and set up an appointment with a career planner, or visit a Michigan Works! Service Center to post your resume on the Pure Michigan Talent Connect, access our free job search workshops and see our list of local companies who have immediate openings!

If you are 16 to 24 and just starting out in your career, our Young Professionals program offers help for those without a high school diploma or GED and are currently not attending school and who may have other barriers to finding employment.

We also have specialized services for veterans including our veteran’s boot camp, career planning, job training and veteran’s staff on location to assist you!

For businesses:

Our business customers will find an equal number of programs and services to help them find talent and save money! In Macomb and St. Clair counties, our certified business solutions professionals have assisted more than 2,000 employers with their employment and business needs, collectively saving them more than $1 million. We offer a wide range of services that include pre-hire, talent recruitment, job development, training and more.

Our customized approach allows us to align our services with the needs of the business. Some of our specific services/programs are listed below:

On-the-job training (OJT) – OJT is an essential tool that can help employers offset the cost of training new talent. OJT provides reimbursement to the employer up to 50 percent of the new employee’s wages for a designated period. This reimbursement assists in covering some of the extraordinary costs of providing the training.

Young Professionals – Partnering with Michigan Works! Young Professionals provides additional tools to assist your business in recruiting and retaining new talent. The employer provides work experience for a young adult and Michigan Works! provides wage/worker compensation for up to 480 hours.

Apprenticeships – An apprenticeship is a systematic approach to training that ensures your current and/or new employees are trained and certified to produce at the highest skill levels. This proven training model allows employers to set the benchmark and the structure that can determine the return on investment in training dollars.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit – A federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals from certain target groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment.

Fidelity bonding – Insurance when hiring high-risk but qualified job seekers who have bona fide offers of employment.

Skilled Trades Training Fund – Employer grants designed to assist in training, developing and retaining new and current employees.

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Call us!

Job seekers and businesses may connect with us locally in Macomb or St. Clair counties by calling (586) 469-5220. If you are from any other county in Michigan and want to find your local Michigan Works! Office, please call 1-800-285-WORKS (9675) to be automatically routed to the nearest Michigan Works! Service Center.

Colin Miller is a manufacturing talent specialist for the Macomb-St. Clair Workforce Development Board, Inc.

Macomb Community College customized programs match workforce talent to business need

Skilled employees are in high demand in southeast Michigan, but employers often struggle to find potential workers with the right combination of skills and advanced training to fill those positions. Macomb Community College is a valuable resource for area employers, working closely with them to identify needs, to provide relevant training and to connect employers with qualified candidates. In addition to developing customized programs for employers, the college also works to leverage grant funding, where possible, to heighten opportunities for individuals and to sustain and enhance growth of local businesses and industry.

Macomb’s PRISM Project, funded by a grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation, is providing advanced manufacturing training to adult learners interested in upskilling.  In addition to offering training in controls technician, robot programmer, mechanical maintenance specialist and robotics technician, the program offers students comprehensive support services beginning with recruitment and choosing a career pathway through career coaching and job placement. Information sessions about this program will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Jan. 10 and Tuesday, Feb. 6 at the M-TEC facility.

Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Macomb’s Michigan Apprenticeship Program Plus (MAP+) works with area high schools and others to build awareness of and develop apprenticeship opportunities in the skilled trades. This program provides pre-apprenticeship training, employer matching, student outreach and assistance with associate degree attainment and four-year transferability options with a focus on manufacturing (CNC machining, tooling, die, mold, welding, industrial maintenance and others). Employers benefit by hiring highly trained employees who better understand their role and produce superior products with reduced employee turnover.

Automated systems and robotics, a high-demand field in the automotive, defense and aerospace industries, is the focus of Macomb in the Catalyst program, also made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Working closely with employers to both identify labor needs and placement opportunities, Macomb provides training in advanced manufacturing to those unemployed or underemployed as well as incumbent employees in need of additional training.

A booming economy is reliant on the combination of growing businesses and the skilled workforce to help those businesses succeed. Macomb is uniquely placed to work with area employers, develop customized programs designed to meet their specific needs and foster a skilled workforce with the interdependent goals of student success and community prosperity. For more information on Macomb Community College’s PRISM or Catalyst programs, contact workforcedev@macomb.edu. For the MAP+ initiative, email apprenticeship@macomb.edu.

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Holger Ekanger is the director of workforce and continuing education, engineering and advanced technology for Macomb Community College.

MCC to host information sessions about free advanced manufacturing training for eligible participants

MCC 1Macomb Community College will host information sessions about advanced manufacturing training programs available in several high-demand career pathways: controls technician, robot programmer, mechanical maintenance specialist and robotics technician. This is part of the PRISM (Prosperity Reaches into Southern Macomb) Project, funded by a grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, which focuses on workforce development, introducing students to information technology careers and engaging employers in sustainable workforce training programs.

Through this grant, the PRISM Project will provide advanced manufacturing training to a minimum of 100 adults. MCC will employ a comprehensive support services model that intensively engages with students throughout the entire process, beginning with recruitment and program selection, continuing through their course of training and extending through career coaching and job placement.

MCC President James O. Sawyer IV said that the PRISM Project is about “positioning residents for long-term success, helping them develop both foundational and technical skills to pursue sustainable career pathways versus short-term jobs. And, more broadly, it’s about enhancing community vitality, building a strong pipeline to address the skills gap, growing local business and industry, and fostering a stronger regional economy.”

In addition to workforce development efforts, the project will introduce 100 high school students to IT careers through PRISM IT academies this summer and will also work to identify opportunities for employers to be involved in sustaining workforce training programs.

“This new project is about providing a clear and more affordable pathway to industry certifications or associate degrees that are relevant to our region’s economy,” said David Egner, president and CEO of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. “The more local employers we can engage in helping to drive, shape and grow this project, the greater the impact it will have in connecting jobseekers with the opportunities available in these growing industries.”

MCCMCC’s advanced manufacturing training programs will be conducted January through July 2018 and will range from 13 to 19 weeks long. They will be available with either a Monday through Friday daytime schedule or an evening schedule that also includes a full-day commitment on Saturdays. The programs include both foundational skills and manufacturing training components.

Information sessions about these training programs will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Jan. 10 and Tuesday, Feb. 6 at the college’s M-TEC facility, 7900 Tank Ave., Warren, 48092. For those living south of 16 Mile Road in Macomb County who meet other eligibility factors, all or a significant portion of tuition may be covered by the college’s PRISM Project. Additional tuition assistance may be available to financially support other individuals interested in training who do not meet PRISM requirements. To register or for more information, call (586) 498-4100 or email workforcedev@macomb.edu.

Caitlin Gerds-Habermas is an associate planner in business outreach and communications for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.