2023 Going PRO Talent Fund Awards top $7.4M to Lakeshore employers

The Lakeshore is benefitting from more than $7.4 million in statewide funding for job training. More than $4.2 million was distributed to 49 employers in Ottawa County, $2.2 million to 17 employers in Allegan County, and nearly $1 million to 11 employers in Muskegon County. 

The funding, from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, is part of $47 million in statewide funding for the Going PRO Talent Fund (GPTF) for fiscal year 2023. West Michigan Works! has notified 193 employers that their applications have been funded, with amounts ranging from $2,247 to $535,000. An additional, nine applications are pending review for an award.

"We are proud of the impact that the Going PRO Talent Fund has had on the West Michigan economy and we are committed to continuing to support the growth and development of local businesses," says Jacob Maas, CEO of West Michigan Works! "This critical funding will help employers hire, upskill, and retain their workforce, addressing the challenges of a lower labor force participation rate."

Over what period of time? West Michigan employers have been awarded a total of $17,463,904 in training funds. The industries that received the most funding are manufacturing, with 124 awards totaling more than $11.5 million; construction, with 25 awards totaling nearly $2.1 million,  and health care, with 12 awards totaling more than $1.8 million.

Millions invested

This is the first of two cycles to be awarded for fiscal year 2023. The online application for Cycle 2 is scheduled to open from May 1-24. Cycle 2-awarded training may occur from July 17, 2023, through July 16, 2024.

Since its inception in 2013, the GPTF has invested millions of dollars in short-term training for high-demand occupations, helping to boost the economy of West Michigan and beyond.

In addition to training new hires, West Michigan Works! reported an increase in the number of employers requesting funds for technical as well as leadership and management training for existing employees. West Michigan Works! also saw increased requests to fund English as a Second Language (ESL) training.

"While the Going PRO Talent Fund is a vital tool for employers looking to upskill their workforce and increase or maintain business capacity, it’s also incredibly beneficial for individuals," says Angie Barksdale, chief operating officer of West Michigan Works! "The training programs supported by this funding often lead to increased wages and advancement opportunities for employees."

Apprenticeship funding requests rise

Apprenticeships continue to be an emerging opportunity for employers to fill the talent gap. According to West Michigan Works!, many employers have requested funds to establish apprenticeship programs or expand existing programs.

As well as the option to apply for Cycle 2 awards, employers may apply for Industry-led Collaboratives (ILC) funding. ILCs bring together multiple employers, education, and training institutions, workforce development organizations, and other applicable partners to formulate training and education solutions to fill identified talent gaps. 

Employers may receive one independent award and another award as part of an ILC  per fiscal year. ILC applications will open in the spring and will be accepted throughout the year, subject to available funding.

For more information or to submit an application, visit www.michigan.gov/talentfund.

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Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.