Grand Haven’s Shape Corp. grows workforce with state’s training program

In partnership with Shape Corp. and other employers, the state of Michigan surpassed its first-year goal of recruiting and training more than 1,000 workers for careers in the electric vehicle/mobility industry.

Now, state officials will look to assist more West Michigan employers in filling more than 1,500 good-paying job openings in advanced manufacturing and IT. 

The MEDC’s recruitment campaign was developed with West Michigan Works! and leading Michigan businesses in EV/mobility, including Shape Corp. in Grand Haven. 

“The Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Talent Action Team Electric Vehicle program is not just important to Shape but to the entire state of Michigan,” says Shape Corp. President and CEO Mark White.

“It signifies our commitment to leading the automotive industry’s future, ensuring we remain at the forefront of technological advancements and workforce development,” said White. “By investing in training and recruiting talent specifically for the electric vehicle sector, we are securing Michigan’s position as a hub for innovation and manufacturing excellence.”

The campaign in West Michigan aligns with the “You Can In Michigan” national marketing effort that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer launched last fall. Its goal is to fill open jobs, increase the state’s population and drive its economic future. The MEDC calls it the largest state talent attraction campaign and effort in the U.S. 

MEDC will work with West Michigan Works! and other officials across the state in filling more than 1,500 job openings in advanced manufacturing sectors such as electric vehicle battery manufacturing. These employers include DENSO, Mahle, LG Energy Solutions, Shape Corp., Magna, Ford, and Gotion. 

How it helped Shape Corp.

Here's how the MEDC and West Michigan Works! in tandem with Shape Corp. brought new talent to the region.

In 2022, Shape Corp., through its engagement with MEDC’s Talent Action Team, identified the recruitment and retention of employees at its facilities in West Michigan as a challenge to current and future success.

In mid-2023, the MEDC Talent Action Team, Shape Corp. and West Michigan Works! designed a recruitment and training plan with the goal of hiring and training 1,000-plus workers. They engaged other local partners to help Shape Corp.’s recruiting, including the Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency, Michigan Rehabilitation Services, and local economic developer Lakeshore Advantage. 

MEDC also incorporated a local marketing campaign that positioned these production roles as tech-forward and targeted job seekers in West Michigan and adjacent states who had appropriate skill sets.

In six months of implementation, Shape Corp. hired or retrained more than 1,300 workers.

“Michigan has long been a leader among the nation’s workforce systems,” says West Michigan Works! Chief Operations Officer Angie Barksdale.  “The proof of our success is on display today here at Shape Corp. Regional collaboration and problem-solving address talent, curriculum and advocacy issues on a broader level, resulting in a larger skilled labor pool and increased job placements.”

Shape Corp. is a global tier 1 supplier of automotive and industrial components, specializing in innovative designs, testing, and processing of metal and plastic systems aimed at enhancing safety and minimizing environmental impact by delivering advanced crash management and lightweight body structure solutions to maximize performance.

The company employs more than 1,500 workers in Ottawa County and 4,200 workers at 14 manufacturing plants and five tech centers worldwide.

In 2023, it debuted a virtually fossil fuel-free steel bumper from materials created with new groundbreaking crash management technology. The company’s aims to reduce energy usage by 30% in all its plants by 2025 and achieve carbon-neutral operations worldwide by 2030, powered by 100% renewable energy.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.