Workforce Pipeline Summit aims to better engage underserved groups in Michigan's workforce

An upcoming summit at Washtenaw Community College (WCC) will focus on better engaging traditionally underserved groups in Michigan employers' hiring process.


The Workforce Pipeline Summit will take place March 18 at WCC's Morris Lawrence Building, kicking off with networking and registration from 7-8 a.m. and concluding at 4:30 p.m. The summit is sponsored by the A2Y Chamber.


"I'm hoping to be bold and push the envelope," says Rich Chang, summit organizer and CEO of the Ann Arbor company NewFoundry. "We have a saying at NewFoundry: Think local, look local, hire local. It's a great community we have here. Let's build it up and tap into that hidden talent pool."


Business owners' main hiring tactics usually consist of going to an online job board or hiring a recruiter. But Chang says those recruiting strategies often overlook groups such as creatives, people over age 55, people who have returned from incarceration, people with disabilities, and veterans.


"Instead, maybe we should start talking to community organizations and looking at these different groups of people who want to work and be contributing members of the community," he says. "I hope this event will look at the barriers these underserved groups face."


The morning session will consist of short informational talks to set the agenda and get conversations started around systemic factors, biases, and policies that all play into pipeline development. Speakers will include representatives from local colleges and universities, county government, the Workforce Intelligence Network, and local businesses.


After lunch at noon, breakout groups will talk about sub-topics with subject matter experts and come up with a vision for two-, five-, and 10-year plans.


"We want them to come up with solutions that are measurable and actionable, that we can follow through for the next 10 years," Chang says.


When the day finishes, the steering committee will take those plans and create two-, five-, and 10-year master plans.


Chang says he is in talks with Destination Ann Arbor to make the summit an annual occurrence or series of events.


Registration before Feb. 28 is $35 for members of the A2Y Chamber and $50 for non-members, with prices going up by $10 after the 28th. Students can register for $15, and scholarships are available. More information and registration is available here.


Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She has served as innovation and jobs/development news writer for Concentrate since early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to Driven. You may reach her at


Photo courtesy of Rich Chang.

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