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.

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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.

Strong job growth continues in Macomb County

The most recent jobs update released from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Macomb County gained 1,590 jobs last month and 10,730 total so far in 2017. The July data shows a total of 422,219 Macomb County residents are working. This is the highest number of people employed in Macomb County in more than 16 years, dating back to November 2000 when 418,451 people were employed.

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Macomb County voters adopted an executive form of county government that began in 2011. Under the leadership of the first-ever county executive, Mark A. Hackel, Macomb County has gained 59,320 jobs. The unemployment rate in the county is currently 4.2 percent.

“Our local economy is growing at a remarkable pace. These new jobs are a direct result of Macomb County’s leadership in sectors of mobility, aerospace, life sciences, information technology, defense and homeland security,” said John Paul Rea, director of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development. “We are excited about these results and will continue to work toward greater economic vitality for our families in Macomb County.”

Year-over-year job growth shows gains in the county. The county’s 2017 to-date job growth is outpacing its 2016 to-date job growth of 8,511.

The updated jobs numbers continue the streak of eight continuous years of job growth in Macomb County. Jobs numbers have grown every single year in Macomb County since the height of the recession in 2009, when 350,776 people in the county were working. The county peaked in jobs numbers in May 1999, when 437,251 were employed. At that time, unemployment was at a mere 2.7 percent.

The Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development has been integrally involved in supporting the automotive industry. We offer free and confidential services to businesses of all sizes across multiple targeted industries. Reach out today so we can assist with your needs.

 

Posavetz, Nick IMG_0221Nick Posavetz is an economic development specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development and is focused on growing, retaining and attracting businesses to Macomb County. To learn about what resources are available for your business, reach out to him at posavetz@macombgov.org.

Romeo High School to implement college and career academies as first designated Ford NGL district in state

Over the past two years, the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development (MCPED) has been working with partners to explore and create a foundation for implementing college and career academies at Romeo High School with support from the Ford Next Generation Learning (NGL) network. The result will be standing up various academies that emphasize career exploration, experiential learning and college readiness rather than perfecting the art of standardized test taking. While Ford has NGL communities throughout the country, this will be the first designated district in the state of Michigan.

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Our department sees this effort as a way to prepare the next generation to meet workforce demands. This transformation is currently in the planning phase, and implementation is scheduled for the 2019 school year. MCPED serves as the community convening organization. As such, some of our responsibilities include supporting successful government, academic and business collaboration; building credibility in the community and gaining support; and focusing on business and community development.

Over 50 stakeholders make up the program’s steering committee. Our department helps advise this committee about current industry trends and in-demand jobs and promotes the county’s 10 targeted industries (automotive, advanced manufacturing, defense, food and agriculture, health care and social assistance, information technology and cybersecurity, logistics and warehousing, professional services, and retail) to businesses, community organizations, teachers, parents and academia.

Romeo_High_SchoolBy examining the local area, the businesses located there, who is hiring and what kind of talent is needed, a determination can be made as to what career pathways ought to be offered for that specific area. The steering committee is examining these options and will help determine the top career academies best suited to offer in the Romeo community.

While core studies will still be taught in the classroom, they will be incorporated into the larger career pathways. For example, a student in the automotive academy would learn the futuristic technologies of autonomous vehicles through studying a blend of information technology, robotics, computer science and engineering. The result is that students will receive extended hands-on exposure to different careers, empowering them to make informed career choices.

In addition to Ford, other local businesses are a necessary part of this framework. They offer externships to the high school teachers, enabling them to spend time at the business so they can better understand the industry and teach it to students. Industry experts are also welcomed to teach in the classroom, working hand in hand with teachers.

The ultimate goal is to build a model for other schools to replicate, with eventually every district in Macomb County offering some form of college and career academy.

If your business is interested in attending steering committee meetings, or if you are a school looking to enter the exploratory phase of implementing the NGL framework, please contact our department at (586) 469-5285.

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

Velocity introduces hacking tools in cyber training course

The Velocity Hub of the Michigan Cyber Range offers those looking to hone their offensive and defensive cybersecurity skills the opportunity to do so at the next Guided Capture the Flag course June 15.

This daylong program enables students to engage in live attacks on networked systems in a secured environment. Students will learn the fundamentals of hacking tools, techniques and methodologies. Topics such as password exploitation and storage, proxy chaining and SQL vulnerabilities will be covered. This is a great starting point for anyone interested as it is tailored to each participant, allowing students to dig as deep into the exercise as they are able.

This capture the flag exercise is hosted on the Michigan Cyber Range, the nation’s largest unclassified training cyber range, and takes place in a virtual training environment known as Alphaville. This is a simulated town that includes a school, library, power and electric, private business and city hall. Alphaville was created by Nathan Dragun who is the instructor for this class as well as the director of development for the Michigan Cyber Range.

Dragun has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Western Michigan University. He has completed advanced training in network security and artificial intelligence and has more than 13 years of experience solving complex technical issues in areas of security, computer networking, software development and architectural design.

Guided Capture the Flag takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 15 at the Velocity Hub of the Michigan Cyber Range, 6633 18 Mile Road, Sterling Heights, 48314. The cost is $625, and registration information can be found at www.oakland.edu/macombouinc/cyber-institute/education. There are no pre-qualifications to enroll. For more information, contact Joan Carleton at macinc@oakland.edu or (586) 884-9324.

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