November 16, 2022 | Employer Talent Pipeline news from around the region
Regional Career Exploration with MiCareerQuest Middle Michigan
MiCareerQuest Middle Michigan Brings 5,000 Students Together to Learn About High Demand Careers in this Region

MiCareerQuest Middle Michigan kicked off on Friday, October 28, at Saginaw Valley State University’s Ryder Center. Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! and Michigan Works! Region 7B hosted the event, with 5,000 10th graders from nearly 60 schools from 40 districts in an 11-county area including Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Iosco, Midland, Ogemaw, Roscommon and Saginaw counties. 

In addition, nearly 70 employers and 500 of their employees volunteered with heavy equipment, simulators, tools, and hands-on exhibits for what organizers call “a career exploration event on steroids.”

Students – along with their teachers and counselors – attended one of four 90-minute sessions and engaged with exhibits created by companies in four industry sectors including advanced manufacturing, agri-business, construction, and health sciences. A fifth industry sector – information technology – integrated throughout the other four.

The goal of the event was to create an experience unlike any other career and college-readiness event – with interactive, hands-on, informative and inspiring career opportunities delivered directly to students from working professionals in high-demand industries.

“Imagine harvesters, CPR dummies, robots, and scissor lifts – all up close and personal with no ‘Do Not Touch” signs in sight,” says Kristen Wenzel, Acting CEO of Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! “We hope this event helped students find their future in an exciting new way, while also laying the groundwork to build a much-needed talent pipeline for employers in the region.”

Mark Berdan, Executive Director of Michigan Works! Region 7B, says, “This wasn’t your typical career fair. It’s an unmatched opportunity for employers to work together within their industries to help youth better understand the strong career options available right here in Middle Michigan.”

The leadership and dedication that came from the Great Lakes Bay Region MiWorks and Region 7B MiWorks was remarkable and one to remember along with regional businesses that helped truly make an impact on the students and schools.

Commenting on the course-to-career connection, Bill Gagliardi, Executive Campus Director for the Great Lakes Bay Campus of Davenport University had this to share on the event's impact:

"MiCareerQuest has provided Davenport University a unique opportunity to share with high school students the connection of education to a career path. We are able to show through our partnership with Frankenmuth Insurance the connection between an information technology degree and providing value added solutions to customers of a business. We hope this information will assist the students in making an informed decision regarding their education and career choice."

This was the second event of its kind in the Middle Michigan area, the first being pre-COVID in 2019. 

Students, businesses, and educators are encouraged to visit the MiCareerQuest event follow-up page for surveys and follow-up resources (below). Students can follow-up with counselors/career navigators, watch virtual tour videos, and revisit career exploration using resources in the “Lesson Suggestions”. Most importantly, we encourage parents to take part in “dinner table” conversations with their kids about what they saw at the event. 
Filling Your Talent Pipeline Needs from Within
On August 10 the Michigan departments of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB) and Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) presented the latest long-term statewide employment projections. Analysis of the projections show a high number of positions with advanced degrees. According to Scott Powell, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiative (DTMB) for the State of Michigan, jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree are more likely to see growth than jobs requiring less education. Four of the top 10 fastest-growing jobs require bachelor’s degrees and those four have average salaries between $68,000 and $91,000 while the other six wage ranges from $24,000 to $34,000.

Managing the flow of skilled workers into the market is a multi-step process that requires careful orchestration. If you lose workers, they don’t just reappear. If employers want to ensure that they have the workers they need, not only for the present, but also the future, they’re going to have to work on sourcing their own talent and actively developing their employees’ skills. The high number in-demand advanced degree positions leads us to wonder about the value of advancing from within. Current employees already have experience, knowledge, and possibly degree credits to move up their career pathway.

Employers must invest in “growing their own.” In many companies, employees find that the best way to move up is to move out, driving up turnover. For example, only 31% of workers with expertise in emerging technologies today were promoted from within. Workers can’t be trained overnight, so companies should invest in preparing them as soon as it becomes apparent that important new skills are emerging.

Employers should also implement fundamental principles of supply-chain
management. In the case of talent, this includes collaboration with community colleges and technical-training academies. As with other suppliers, companies need to share detailed job specifications with colleges, meet regularly with them, provide them with access to relevant experts and technology, discuss their emerging requirements, evaluate their reciprocal performance, and offer data-driven feedback. One of the major talent retention and acquisition strengths of local manufacturers is the strong relationship that the Central Michigan Manufacturers have with Mid Michigan College. Mid has often provided short-term training to address needs of workers already employed to better prepare them for future needs. Through various special interest groups’ communication and collaboration, quick action is taken to meet workforce needs. My Michigan Health has a close relationship working with Mid as well.

These relationships between businesses, education and training institutions support workers moving up a career pathway, but also work to fill pipeline gaps with back filling positions that workers leave vacant. Often, businesses will need to work with education and training institutions to provide experienced and knowledgeable instructors for advanced courses.

Employers are well aware of the transient trends of today’s workforce. Keeping employees informed of projected future needs and offering incentives for them to move up within the business produces a teamwork approach to managing a business and encourages motivated employees to invest their energy and time building a successful business.
Widening Perspectives to Access Talent Sources
Managing the flow of skilled workers into the market is a multistep process that requires careful orchestration. You lose workers, they don’t just reappear. If employers want to ensure that they have the workers they need not only for the present but also the future, they’re going to have to get better at sourcing their own talent and actively developing their employees’ skills.

Employers might look at the need to expand their process for sourcing talent and work actively to draw from a broader talent base. One potential source are people who have had limited access to educational and professional opportunities. These people may have faced systemic barriers to employment and career advancement.

For businesses they are known as opportunity populations. These people provide potential opportunities for a business to source talent as well as expand and enrich the diversity, equity, and inclusion quality of their workplace. Opportunity populations might include those who have been limited by age, disability, ethnicity/national origin, family status, sex, gender identity or expression, generation, language, life experiences, neurodiversity, organizational function and level, physical characteristics, race/color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

Employers are increasingly recognizing that a diverse and inclusive workforce results in significant business advantages. These advantages include better representation of their customer base, better hiring efficiencies, more innovative thinking, boosted productivity, improved company culture and employee morale, enhanced retention and employee loyalty, as well a greater brand recognition and value among consumers.

Employers who would like more information on how to connect with opportunity populations can continue to watch this newsletter and/or contact:

Gary Holik, Business Relations Consultant
Michigan Rehabilitation Services
Phone: 989-402-7550

Chief Science Officer + Employer Talent Pipeline Spotlight
The Great Lakes Bay Region Alliance is working to connect with students from the Chief Science Officer (CSO) Program to help fuel the talent pipeline. There is tremendous benefit in linking employers in the region to our future workforce through students with STEM interests and aptitude. As students are looking to focus on a particular area of study in college or for a career choice after college, development tools like internships, mentoring, job shadows, and site tours provide valuable context to both students and employers. 

In support of this effort, we are sharing CSO Spotlights to highlight these amazing students and connect our STEM talent to opportunities in the region via the Employer Talent Pipeline newsletter!

CSO Spotlight: Jamie Kocks
Our CSO Spotlight this month is on CSO Alumni Jamie Kocks. Jamie is a dynamic college sophomore at Ferris State University currently pursuing her degree in pre-optometry and biology and open to both opportunities in the GLBR and Big Rapids.

We hope you take the time and enjoy reading about the future of STEM talent in the GLBR and maybe even find your next employee right here in your backyard! If you’re interested in learning more about the CSO Program, below are a few articles about some of the amazing things a few of the students have done.

About the Chief Science Officer Program
The Chief Science Officer Program began five years ago here in the GLBR and has provided an amazing opportunity for students in the region to not only experience STEM, but begin to educate others about it. As CSO’s, these STEM Ambassadors advocate for STEM learning and work with their team to complete an action plan within their school or community. 

Our CSOs have done some extraordinary things including: 

  • Hosting flight nights with Jack Barstow Airport; 
  • Sending STEM Kits to Africa; and 
  • Putting together Teen Science Cafes for other students to become involved in STEM

These action plans and consistent participation in STEM learning have helped shape these young minds to take on and conquer anything in their way. The CSO Program has helped students develop into vocal STEM leaders, as well as helped build their communication, teamwork, time-management, and creative skills needed for the future.

Other articles highlighting CSOs: