Efforts essential to talent development 

I was disappointed to read a column ("Taxpayer subsidized workforce development is a lemon," July 14) disparaging workforce development in Michigan. While there’s always room to improve, our state’s workforce development offerings deliver positive results for job seekers and employers alike, especially through the Michigan Works! network.

Workforce development is far from a big government solution with no business involvement. Michigan Works! organizations, which are the state’s economic development partner, rely heavily on private sector leadership. Each of our 16 Michigan Works! boards are by law 50% private sector.

The fact is our programs are locally demand-driven, which means Michigan Works! lets local employers and workers drive the discussion about critical hiring areas, training needs and placement support. Michigan Works! then follows up with customized services and supports, using a model that’s now highly regarded across the U.S. In fact, our state’s workforce development structure was the template used to craft federal laws related to talent development.

We’re serving 800,000 job seekers and 36,000 employers each year. From young people just beginning their careers to veterans, returning citizens, and many others, each of our clients can access not just interview skills or resume support, but hard-hitting apprenticeships, on-the-job training and other practical supports integral to career success.

Our state’s economic progress since 2009 would not be what it is without the sustained work of our state’s talent development system. There is always room to improve, but workforce development efforts in Michigan are definitely working.

Charlie Mahoney, Four-M Associations owner

chairman, Michigan Works! Association Board

Workforce column was void of fact

Sarah Estelle in her guest column took Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to task for her proposed budget that includes $400 million for workforce development programming.

She suggests that workforce development training should be left to business since government can’t possibly know how to run such programs efficiently. She further suggests Michigan taxpayers have somehow been hoodwinked about the success of these programs.

Unfortunately, her column is long on opinion, short on research and void of fact.

No single entity can address workforce development alone — including business — or they would already be doing it.

In the past three years, Oakland County Michigan Works! has:

• Trained 1,870 unemployed or under-employed individuals in high-skill, high-demand jobs including nursing, CAD design and programming, among many others.

• Awarded $5.1 million to 204 Oakland County companies to train 2,188 new hires; 3,347 existing employees and create 114 apprenticeships.

• Trained 123 workers in robotics, automation or advanced manufacturing at Oakland Community College and Macomb Community College, with 84 students earning industry-recognized credentials and placement of 85% of those workers in high-demand occupations.

• Met with more than 300 companies to discuss the establishment of apprenticeship programs, resulting in the creation of nearly 140 new apprenticeships.

In November 2018, we connected more than 8,000 high school students from six counties with 1,000 business, labor and education representatives featuring 114 different occupations in advanced manufacturing, construction, health sciences and technology.

We expect 10,000 students at the 2019 MI Career Quest Southeast on Nov. 8.

We take seriously the impact our work has on the community, our state and take pride in our success. We are happy to share our success story with Estelle anytime.

Michael D. McCready, acting director

Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs

Christina Tribuzio, chair

Oakland County Workforce Development Board

Corporate vice president, PGK Services

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