Michigan Works! Southeast will receive more than $3 million this year from the state of Michigan's Going PRO Talent Fund, which provides funds to help employers train employees and thereby grow their businesses. It is the most Going PRO funding the workforce development agency has been awarded to date.
Shamar Herron, director of Michigan Works! Southeast, says the grant awards will be disbursed to train workers at 91 companies in Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee, Livingston, and Washtenaw counties. The companies will train 1,337 employees, 763 new hires, and 299 United States Department of Labor registered apprentices.
Herron is particularly excited about the apprenticeships that will be supported, declaring that "apprenticeships are on the move." He points out that in recent years there have been several initiatives across the state that emphasize apprenticeship as a progressive job path.
"The funds will afford us another opportunity to help people understand that four-year institutions aren't the only way to move into a career. We can demonstrate that apprenticeships are viable, well-respected opportunities for both the young and old," he says. "There are so many opportunities for people to make livable wages, and apprenticeships are a humongous opportunity."
Herron says local employers are considering other signs of a potential employee’s value beyond just college degrees. They also want to know what skills someone is bringing with them.
"I don't believe there is a talent shortage. Everybody has a talent. But I do believe there is a skills shortage," he says. "I'm thrilled that this new investment will help so many people upskill themselves."
Over 100 applicants applied for Going PRO funds this year. Herron says Michigan Works! Southeast's business services team had only about a month to complete all the conversations required and to navigate all the associated paperwork. Last year there was no Going PRO funding, leaving many local companies in need of assistance.
"We've really hauled tail to serve the local business community, knowing that this funding means tremendous opportunities for our workforce," he says.
Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Michigan Works! Southeast.