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Collaboration Fuels Michigan’s Talent Pipeline

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As the war on talent intensifies into 2023, companies are increasingly looking to access a highly qualified talent pool and pipeline for nearly any expansion, relocation and new development efforts. Michigan is well-positioned to provide a responsive, enthusiastic and capable workforce, thanks to its understanding of the current talent landscape and its private-public collaboration opportunities.

The University Research Corridor (URC), a collaboration between the University of Michigan (U-M), Michigan State University and Wayne State University, is a hub for innovation and plays a key role in developing top talent alongside over 20 other public universities, community colleges and trade schools. Compared to national peer clusters, URC ranks first in granting medical degrees, first in preparing graduates for careers in the mobility industry, second in high-tech degrees and third in high-demand degrees, such as business, computer science and engineering. This incredible talent isn’t leaving the state, either. According to the 2022 URC Economic Impact Report, nearly half of the 1.5 million living alumni from the three URC universities live, work and play in Michigan, resulting in a significant population of educated and eager workers who are deeply invested in the state and the industries that call it home.

With site selectors and talent acquisition teams eyeing Michigan’s pipeline, companies within the state have taken additional steps to become more intertwined with their prospective workforce through public-private partnerships. This has resulted in a stronger, more experienced talent pool and graduates eager to join these companies’ teams. As Michigan’s marketing arm, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) leverages the value that these partnerships add to both companies and the state’s output of talent, and by guiding this level of collaboration for new, existing and expanding employers, it’s clear why so many companies are choosing Michigan.

Michigan has several perfect examples of collaborations between private businesses and public universities, which enrich the education of students and, in turn, the quality of talent available. Developed in cooperation with Ford Motor Company and the MEDC, the U-M Battery Lab, a full-service, 9,000-square-foot battery cell fabrication and testing facility, is helping to advance the battery and robotics fields. Grand Valley State University’s Applied Computing Institute is connecting students with industry collaborators to solve computing problems, gaining the attention of Fortune 500 companies like Michigan-based Whirlpool. This collaboration extends between both of Michigan’s peninsulas, with Michigan Technological University and nearby printed circuit boards manufacturer Calumet Electronics in the state’s Upper Peninsula partnering to bring hands-on experience to engineering students. Michigan’s long-term vision for its talent pipeline demonstrates the positive impact of public-private collaborations on both the student experience and employer prospects.

Partnerships are not exclusive to the state’s research universities; communities and institutions are ensuring Michigan residents have access to quality K-12 education and post-secondary options that prepare them to join the workforce. For instance, the Sixty by 30 Alliance – a statewide collaboration between economic development organizations, colleges and universities, workforce development initiatives and professional associations – seeks to get 60% of working-age Michigan residents to hold a certificate or college degree by 2030. In turn, the talent is eager and ready, as evidenced by the state connecting over 170,000 Michiganders to good-paying jobs through its various employment and education programs.

Michigan is being proactive and intentional in its workforce development as it prepares talent across the state for in-demand occupations that will innovate the future.

In May 2022, Michigan launched the $1.5 million Semiconductor Career and Apprenticeship Network (SCAN) Program grant to engage key employers, end users and workforce and education partners to build a stronger talent pipeline for the industry. Shari Liss, Executive Director of the SEMI Foundation, stated that “SCAN is a critical program that will provide economic opportunity and mobility to Michigan residents and support the health of the microelectronics industry by addressing its significant workforce challenges.”

As Michigan continues to focus on building a stronger, more equitable pipeline, the state will continue to foster an environment that encourages partnerships, innovation and collaboration to help meet the state’s workforce needs and address the labor market of tomorrow.

Learn more about Michigan’s workforce, including how your business can collaborate with the state’s world-class talent.


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