March 22, 2022 | Employer Talent Pipeline news from around the region
Upskilling people skills, tools and technology to meet the biggest challenges of our time . . . in Manufacturing
One of the biggest business challenges of our time has been, and will continue to be, how to balance people resources with tools and technology resources. We now have increasingly capable robots and artificial intelligence (AI) systems that can take on tasks that were previously done by humans. To meet this challenge, companies need to continually upskill their people. That means investing in all types of learning, identifying and filling skill gaps, and keeping people employable.
Manufacturing is at the core of the automation movement. Often referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or "Industry 4.0," is an advancement in manufacturing technology that is Interconnecting physical and digital systems into a "smart" factory.

There is not a set process for getting into automation. Each business often self-assesses, designs and builds automation for their individual needs based on organization specifics and the capabilities of people on site. The best integration of people and technology balances between the human and automated resources key to the process. As part of the launch of Michigan's Industry 4.0 Readiness Initiative, the Great Lakes Bay Manufacturers Association (GLBMA) collaborated with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and others to share more information about Industry 4.0 and the state's goal for 2025 through a webinar series this past winter. The webinar’s first learning opportunity in January, 4.0 Readiness Shortfalls and opportunities, featured three companies each of whom shared their successes and challenges with automation.

Jeff Jacques of American Mizuba spoke of labor cost and the best use of human work. Using mathematics to justify equipment purchases to offset labor costs and the need to stay competitive on a global scale, he also spoke about the values not recorded in the numbers for automation. Jeff shares that, “There are many technical and important positions that eventually many new hires will have a chance to work toward because we love to promote from within by creating the opportunity for associates to build new skill sets to fulfill future roles.” There is work in the plant that employees do not find rewarding or see a future in which can lead to low morale. If that employee’s work can be automated he or she can be trained for higher skilled, more rewarding work. The high cost of the labor now better matches the job. This is what is meant by finding a balance between the people resources and the automated resources.

The labor shortage of welders is years old, occurring well before the pandemic. Justin Miller of Morbark Industries shared a video of new robotic welding cells that save 50% production time and more about bridging the labor shortage gap. The new cells have also increased quality and consistency, improved safety, optimized material consumption and provided a competitive edge. Morbark’s reasoning also matches American Mizuba’s regarding balancing the people resources with automated resources in terms of cost and employee satisfaction goals.
Finding the best use of people is critical to success, especially during these times when people are in short supply. Justin says that, “Using skilled people will always be needed for jobs that will never be automated. The goal is to automate everything that can be, so that skilled workers can be used elsewhere.”
Much of the savings realized via increased production, improved material
consumption, lower labor costs and consistency are put back into the business to educate and train employees for more advanced and rewarding work. When employees have an opportunity to learn and grow their careers within a company, they’re more likely to stay.

A FREE Industry 4.0 Showcase will take place on April 21 from at the Great Hall Banquet and Convention Center in Midland. Go to The Center's Industry 4.0 Showcase - Midland ( to register or contact Chris Tibaudo for more information at 989-964-2807,

The Michigan Reconnect Scholarship Program to increase knowledge and skill level of adults 25 years of age and up has funding still available. To find more information go to: Michigan Reconnect - About
STEM Forward Support for Internships
There has been a renewed, more intense interest in the value of internships across the region over the past year. The interest appears from both the business and the student perspectives. Students are realizing the advantages of spending time with one or more companies to gain deeper insights and experiences before making specific career decisions with regards to local companies and positions within those companies. Businesses recognize the value in terms of badly needed labor but also as having a distinct impact helping skilled students make career choices to stay in high demand industries and even within specific organizations.

Competition for labor as well as student need for support has elevated the
requirement for internships to be paid positions. Michigan STEM Forward is a statewide program helping to support internships by matching college students with internship opportunities, then providing wage and resource support.

All internships for STEM Forward must be STEM-focused. To check for STEM Forward eligibility businesses should look at their intern job descriptions for STEM focus. Learning and practical experiences with outcomes having strong foundations in science, technology, engineering, and math are those being considered in the grant submission process. Technology based positions have the highest priority. To further check eligibility, read through the participation requirements and criteria at Michigan STEM Forward Details for Participating Companies ( The video provided on the website is highly recommended.

If a business feels that an internship position meets the criteria, the next step is to apply/complete a profile from the link on the webpage. The application process will request a recommendation. If the business is working with an EDC, or other entity such as a college or university, that entity should be identified. If not, the reviewers of the application will contact a SmartZone representative for a recommendation. It would be advantageous for a business to take the initiative to contact a local SmartZone representative when applying to introduce themselves develop a working relationship.

The large goal for the STEM Forward program is to develop long-lasting working relationships between companies and their local support systems such as Economic Development Corporation, Small Business Corporations, and local colleges and universities. There are 21 district tech hubs throughout the state known as SmartZones. These zones designated by the State of Michigan have been established to encourage collaborations between universities, municipalities, Economic Development Corporations, community organizations and companies to promote innovation, commercialization, research and development of new ideas, with particular emphasis in technology.

Smartzone representatives for the Great Lakes Bay Region are Larry Herriman, and Nicole Wilson, Contact Larry or Nicole to obtain a recommendation for the STEM Forward grant and learn more about making connections and partnerships within your Smartzone.

STEM Forward is hosting a Virtual Summer Internship Fair on March 23 from 4-7 pm. Registration can be found at

CMURC is a professional and diverse coworking space with accelerator programs focused on product and strategic development for entrepreneurs to positively impact the economy in the Great Lakes Bay Region. It brings together local, regional and statewide partners to accelerate the success of entrepreneurs, professionals, and corporations growing businesses and jobs by leveraging the resources of Central Michigan University, the Mount Pleasant SmartZone District and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. CMURC is committed to inclusive entrepreneurship with the ultimate goal of closing the opportunity gap because people from all backgrounds deserve access to business and entrepreneurial resources.
STEM Ecosystem Conference to Feature Industry 4.0 Training Programs
The Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance will be hosting “People, Planet, Prosperity”, an in-person convening of the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice that is planned for June 20 to June 22, 2022 in Bay City, Michigan. Michigan was selected in a competitive process open to all 94 Ecosystems that are a part of the global network, serving students in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Israel and Kenya.

The conference will bring together international leaders from more than 90 STEM Ecosystems to address current and evolving talent and community needs for our 21st century economy.

Practical strategies will be shared for how communities can use STEM to drive gains in equity, social mobility and efforts to safeguard the environment so this provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Michigan stakeholders to gather innovative ideas from STEM leaders around the world.

Anchored by the Great Lakes Bay Region STEM Ecosystem, a host planning committee of all Michigan Ecosystems including the MiSTEM Network, the Michigan STEM Partnership Southeast Michigan STEM Alliance has worked to build an engaging conference that will offer hands-on learning opportunities curated from throughout the state as well as the nation.

People, Planet, Prosperity will feature collaboration among educators, workforce professionals, business leaders, policymakers, government officials, community and nonprofit organizations and other active participants in STEM education, workforce and economic development for thriving communities.

The conference will include a focus on the key elements needed for producing a talented workforce:
  • An understanding of the current and future industry needs;
  • Diverse and committed partners from education, business and industry, non-profits, government, philanthropic organizations and other influencers;
  • Entry points for collaboration with the ability to scale;
  • Clear career pathways available for youth and families to make important decisions;
  • Access to learning opportunities for ALL students;
  • Ongoing learning/training opportunities within the community to keep abreast of industry shifts.

A field trip to Nexteer Automotive is a featured session that should capture the interest of entities that are focused on Industry 4.0 training programs. With manufacturers throughout the country facing the challenge of an ongoing labor shortage, efforts by LIFT Ignite, the Saginaw Intermediate School District(SISD), and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers(SME) will be featured to provide an actionable template for other communities to replicate.

Locally, Jenny Geno, Executive Director of Career and Technical Education for the Saginaw Intermediate School District (SISD) has worked closely with Jeremy Bockelman, Executive Director of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, on implementing Industry 4.0 curriculum. Nationally, LIFT, a Detroit-based research and learning lab, and SME have implemented programs that lead to industry recognized certifications to prepare the "4IR" Workforce.

Program implementation, imbedding industry-recognized certifications and pathways for community colleges and universities acceptance of certifications are areas that will be discussed in the session. Participants will learn how to connect with national organizations who are passionate in their support of schools developing students for new jobs, in this new economy.

If your organization would like to learn more about solutions to solve the talent shortage please register today.

NOTE: As a member of the Great Lakes Bay Region, you ARE a Community of Practice member already! Choose that option when registering for the whole conference or just a day pass for $50-100 off!