The Michigan Talent Investment Agency (TIA) is addressing the gap between workers with the right skills and Michigan companies in need of employees for both today and tomorrow.

TIA joins the efforts of the Workforce Development Agency and the Unemployment Insurance Agency to integrate new workers into the economy and help those workers that have been in or out of the workforce transition into new jobs. TIA coordinates programs related to job preparedness, career-based education, worker training, employment assistance and unemployment insurance.

Read below to learn more about the TIA, as shared by the agency’s Director, Stephanie Comai.

Q: What is the Talent Investment Agency and why was it created?

SC: Our agency is one of three within the new Department of Talent and Economic Development, with the other two being Michigan Economic Development Corporation  (MEDC) and Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The Talent Investment Agency, or TIA, will spearhead Gov. Rick Snyder’s talent enhancement initiative, which is critical to Michigan’s economic prosperity. We will be the state’s leader in evaluating and implementing services and programs related to talent, such as job preparedness, career-based education, skilled trades training, incumbent worker training, employment assistance, STEM training programs and programs designed to help the unemployed.

Q: What will be your priorities in your role at the Talent Investment Agency? Can you give us any initiatives or ideas on programs or initiatives that will help achieve these priorities? What will be the benefits of this agency for job seekers and employers?

SC: I want us to be a dynamic, collaborative, nimble and innovative agency that’s always finding better ways to serve our customers in every corner of the state.  We’ll do that by listening to stakeholders across Michigan. Collaboration is key. Many of the best ideas come from the local level and we need to hear what’s being said at the community and regional levels.

In terms of specific programs or initiatives, we’ll be spending a lot of time in the next few months bringing stakeholders together to address common challenges and hear their best practices.
We want to know what’s working and what’s not, and if something’s not working, then find the best way to fix it. This may be in the form of “listening tours” or something to that effect, though we haven’t decided on an exact format yet.  We’ll also concentrate on creating greater awareness of career and technical education. For example, we’re working with our MEDC partners on some great videos that will help spark an interest in the skilled trades among students, including grade-schoolers. Enhancing STEM education is another priority, because it provides the necessary foundation for success in the skilled and technical trades.

As for job seekers and employers, TIA will benefit them in two primary ways. First, as part of the Department of Talent and Economic Development, we can help simply by providing talent-related services under one roof, giving all customers a single doorway to state government. Equally important is that we’ll help to build a bridge that brings the job seekers and job providers together. We’ll help new members of our workforce, as well as established members, gain the critical skills to take advantage of the many opportunities that await them. The flip side of that is helping Michigan to grow by allowing job providers to have greater access to well trained and highly qualified talent, which is the lifeblood of any business.

Q: What issues or challenges do you think all states face when it comes to talent? How is Michigan currently addressing it, or how do you think they can address it?

SC: Some of the biggest challenges are training and retention. We need to make sure that we’re producing talent that has the skills needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Then, of course, we want to retain this talent in Michigan rather than seeing our workers go to other states. Thanks to the governor’s emphasis on the talent issue, we’re making strides in both areas. The awareness he is creating, particularly through the creation of our agency, is generating an important dialogue that is getting Michigan to more sharply focus on these goals. So when you look at what’s going on across the state – things like greater regional collaboration – that will help everything from talent development to placemaking. It’s important that everyone be at the table, from educators, job providers, nonprofits and economic development specialists. The end result is a state and regions with a high quality of life and great job opportunities.

Q: A major discussion in Michigan right now is around the skilled trades – what opportunities are there for students or job seekers in this industry?

SC: Our MiTalent.org website has well over 80,000 unfilled jobs, many of which are for skilled trades positions. The opportunities are out there. It’s really a matter of getting people with the training to fill them. A few of the governor’s initiatives that we’re proud to implement include the Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program, which helps community colleges get the up-to-date equipment they need to better train students for skilled trades careers; and the Skilled Trades Training Fund, which already has helped more than 10,000 people get trained or retrained as of December 2014. One of the exciting things about the skilled trades is the variety of fields that are available. From industrial engineering and software design to medical technicians and heating & refrigeration mechanics, the sky is the limit.

Q: What perception do you think Michigan faces in terms of job opportunities and what do you want people to know about job opportunities in Michigan?

SC: We probably are still battling the old stereotype that Michigan is part of the “Rustbelt” and that we’re not as vibrant as other places across the country. That’s totally unfounded, of course. Take Detroit, for example. Not everyone realizes that Michigan is a leader in things like automotive research and development. We’re an innovation hub in so many ways. But both in terms of job providers and prospective talent, Michigan probably still has some work to do in terms of overcoming that negative stereotype. TIA will work with all of its partners to not only prepare Michiganders for exciting, highly skilled jobs but also to let everyone know that Michigan really is a state of opportunity. Stay in Michigan and you can have a great career and a great quality of life. You can’t beat that.

Q: Where can people go to learn more?

SC: I hope everyone visits our agency website at www.michigan.gov/tia, as well as department’s website at www.michigan.gov/ted. They’re both in the early stages right now; we’ll continue to add content as time goes on. As always, we welcome any comments from our partners as to how we can make them even better.

Stephanie Comai is the Director of the Talent Investment Agency where she directs the initiatives of the state’s workforce development programs and the Unemployment Insurance Agency and serves as a top advisor to the Governor on talent and workforce issues. Prior to her role at the Talent Investment Agency, Comai was a Deputy Director at the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs with oversight of Employment, Security and Workplace Safety.

For additional information on the TIA and other programs in Michigan, visit MichiganBusiness.org

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Being a leader in producing blueberries, cherries and many other delicious fruits, Michigan is often associated with pies that come fresh out of the oven. But on Mach 14, or 3.14, the state joins in on celebrating a different kind of Pi.

Each year, “Pi Day” is recognized to celebrate mathematics and the universal symbol of Pi (Greek letter “π”) which represents a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14.

Within the last five years, Michigan has emerged as a leader in producing STEM jobs, many specifically tailored to mathematics. In celebration of Pi day, and related career opportunities in Michigan, here are 3.14 tips to remember when looking to start a career in the Great Lakes State.

1.       Mitalent.org – Pure Michigan Talent Connect is your launch pad for new jobs, careers and talent. It is an online marketplace connecting Michigan’s job seekers and employers, serving as a central hub linking all public and private stakeholders who support Michigan’s workforce.

Written user guides and video tutorials are available to help you navigate Pure Michigan Talent Connect; assist in the process of creating an account and utilizing all of the available features. You can access these tutorials by selecting “Tutorials” under the “About Us” section at the bottom right of any page on www.mitalent.org or by visiting www.mitalent.org/tutorials/.

 2.       Michigan Virtual Career Fair – Michigan Virtual Career Fairs are the states hottest new way to connect talent to opportunity. They are online career events where jobseekers can meet and network with hiring Michigan companies in an interactive, live, virtual environment.

During MiVirtualCareerFairs, event participants can:

  • Communicate via chat with participating employers.
  • Upload, view, and search for job postings.
  • Interact with other participants in the Networking Lounge.
  • Explore career development resources and interactive content in the Auditorium and Resource Lounge.
  • Talk with Pure Michigan Talent Connect Staff about their job search and learn about getting the most out of MiTalent.Org.
  • Veterans can connect with staff at the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) booth to learn about veterans benefits in Michigan.
  • Follow and re-post status updates to social and professional media during the live event.
  • Access archived job openings for 30 days after event.

The next MIVirtualCareerFair is May 13th, 2015. For more information visit www.michiganvirtualcareerfair.com.

 3.       MAT2 – MAT2 programs include mechatronics, technical product design, information technology and computer numerical control – all with a base in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education. Students dedicate three years to a combination of on the job training and classroom experience in a curriculum designed by their respected industry. They receive full circle instruction – breaking the mode of traditional programs.

Not only will students graduate without student debt (tuition is paid for by the employer), they will have been paid throughout their on the job training. Leaving school with the ability to immediately add value to a company is a reinforcement not given to many.

Companies participating in MAT2 gain employees that have been tailored to excel within their industry. As students successfully complete the program they enter a two year employment period with the company. This common denominator employee and employer share throughout the program helps cut cost on recruitment, retention and re-training of new employees.

Colleges involved in the MAT2 program this year include Baker College – Cadillac and Charlevoix, Lansing Community College, Mott Community College, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, North Central Michigan Community College – Petoskey, Henry Ford College and Delta College.

For more information on MAT2 and how to get involved visit www.mitalent.org/mat2.

.14 Don’t forget to check your resume for spelling and grammar before you send!

 

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As the second largest industry in Michigan, agriculture has long been a pillar of the state’s economy. With more than 51,000 registered farm operations, the agriculture industry offers unique opportunities for Michigan’s workforce, including the growing area of international trade.

Carla Wardin is a sixth generation farmer on her family’s land in St Johns, Mich.  Carla blogs about the farm at Truth or Dairy and goes into the schools to teach about farming.

The Wardins recently expanded their herd and now milk 400 cows while also growing crops to feed their cattle on 850 acres of corn, alfalfa, and pasture.  Read more about Carla’s unexpected path back to being a Michigan dairy farmer .

Even though I grew up as the sixth generation on our family’s dairy farm, I didn’t see myself continuing the tradition.  I was adamant that I didn’t want a job that depended on the weather.  It seemed we were always worrying about it at home – was it ever going to rain?  Did it rain too much?  Was it going to rain when the hay was down?  Why didn’t it ever rain!?

It’s not like I didn’t embrace the lifestyle.  I showed our Guernsey calves in 4-H, I washed the parlor when my dad milked, and I loved everything about living there, but I didn’t think I wanted it as a career.

I got my MA from Michigan State and my husband Kris and I worked in marketing around the country.  But Kris was also from a dairy farm … and one day we started talking about owning our own business.

Michigan and dairy farming suddenly seemed very attractive.  My parents were thinking about retirement, so we moved from Connecticut to Michigan, settled into my family’s 136-year-old farmhouse, and bought the farm.

We’re the sole owners of Evergreen Dairy, and the farm is more than a business – it’s our lifestyle.  Part of what I love to do is to go into the community and talk to people about farming.  We also enjoy having people come and tour the farm.  Since you can only reach so many people in person, I also write a blog – Truth or Dairy – that shows and tells what it’s like on our dairy farm.

 

Another wonderful part about the Michigan farm lifestyle is that we have so many organizations that support and promote farming.  We’re involved at the local, state, and national level.  For instance, our milk co-op is Michigan Milk Producer’s Association Michigan Milk Producers Association, and through our involvement with them and National Milk Producers Federation, we’ve had the chance to represent our industry in Washington, D.C.  Through Michigan Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau, we always get the chance to come together with other farmers and have our voices heard.  It’s great meeting so many active people from all the different farming industries to communicate on what we all have in common – the desire to run our family businesses.

This year, I had the opportunity to represent farmers through U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, in a position called the Face of Farming and Ranching.  The other four spokespeople and I are spending this year talking to consumers and communicating about farming and food questions.

Along with the enthusiastic people we work with in the agriculture organizations, there are important people closer to home.  Every day, we’re thankful for our neighbors and team members – who are often the same people.  We’re so fortunate that they share our same passion for farming.

Then, there’s the support system – there are so many industries that sustain a farm.  Just to name a few, we work with milk haulers, electricians, builders, machine dealers, and seed salesmen.  We have veterinarians, nutritionists, feed haulers, and planters.  Some days, it feels like everyone’s at the farm at once!  Each and every person serves a valuable role for making sure that quality milk comes from our farm to your table.

I still sit on the porch, willing the smell of rain in the air to turn into a downpour.  We still continually check the weather to see how it’s going to affect what we’re doing.  But – agriculture is Michigan’s second biggest industry, and we’re eighth in the country for milk production.  Not bad!  It turns out that Michigan weather is great for dairy farming … and the people are even better.

Interested in learning more? Visit MichiganBusiness.org/grow or Michigan.gov/MDARD

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This week, business and education leaders from across Michigan came together at the 2015 Governor’s Economic and Education Summit to discuss the state’s increasing economic diversity and initiatives aimed at molding the  future workforce.

In his welcoming remarks, Gov. Rick Snyder shared his vision for talent and business attraction to work hand in hand, and encouraged collaboration and idea sharing between the two industries. As the two summits were presented together for the first time, the governor urged attendees to break free of the “silos” in which they interact, and meet with leaders from across the economic and education spectrum.

Conversations at the summit focused on the growing economic opportunities in the state and the need for talent growth across multiple industries.

The Need for Talent

“Companies both big and small are struggling to find top talent in key Michigan industries,” Andrew Belanger, Statewide Talent Programs at Michigan Economic Development Corporation, shared.

During the summit, workshop discussions included dissecting statewide talent programs like the MiVirtualCareerFair and Pure Michigan DREAMJOB. These state initiatives go beyond just promoting jobs in-state by matchmaking talent with Michigan employers and showcasing the quality of life that living in Michigan offers.  Belanger presented the growing opportunities for Michigan’s talent and careers available through MiTalent.org.

“As the economy continues to improve, we need to focus not just on developing and retaining talent in advanced manufacturing, information technology, and healthcare but we need to focus on attracting it from across Michigan, the nation and the globe,“ said Belanger.

The Growth of Skilled Trades

The growth and need for talent within the STEM industry is a nationwide discussion and the summit was no exception.  The need for talent development in the skilled trades is a priority in Michigan. Through MiTalent.org, there are currently more than 91,000 jobs available in Michigan, 28 percent of which are skilled trade and 12 percent being STEM-related.

“Pure Michigan Talent Connect, the state of Michigan’s official labor exchange system, is an excellent resource for employers looking to attract talent and for job seekers looking for Michigan career opportunities,” Belanger continued. “With over 3 million unique site visits last year and over 1.5 million unique people performing job searches, the site gives employers access to roughly 150,000 active job seekers and job seekers access to over 80,000 Michigan jobs per month.”

Michigan Leading the Way

In addition to the immense opportunities available to enter Michigan’s workforce, Gov. Snyder spoke on Michigan leading the way in specialized programs that help students realize the opportunities in growing industries that will lead to high paying, sustainable careers.

“Michigan currently has more than 349 FIRST Robotics teams, which not only leads the nation, but accounts for more teams than all other states combined, Gov. Snyder said.” “This is just another example of how the combination of industry and education is Michigan’s future.”

Other examples were significant funding allocated to improve early childhood education and talent programs available at community colleges unlike any other.

Besides the governor, notable speakers at the conference included: Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan, University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel, Lansing Community College Director of K-12 Relations Toni Hughs Glasscoe and President & CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services, Carla Walker-Miller.

For more information on the 2015 Governor’s Economic Summit and the many economic opportunities in Michigan, visit MichiganBusiness.org

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Pure Michigan Talent Connect: Hot Jobs in International Trade

February 26, 2015 Business Growth

If you’re looking for a job in Michigan, Pure Michigan Talent Connect – a collaborative effort of the State of Michigan’s Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) – is your launch pad for new jobs, careers and talent. The site is an online marketplace connecting Michigan’s job seekers and employers. In the last few [...]

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China’s Changing Economic Climate Means Business for Michigan Agriculture Exports

February 23, 2015 Business Growth

China’s booming economy is resulting in business opportunity for Michigan’s food producers. As China’s economy has moved from being agriculturally to industrially driven, the country relies heavily on imports to meet the growing popularity of western and international food items that Chinese consumers want. Michigan is known for its diversity of agricultural offerings, and the [...]

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Factory to Freight: How Michigan Businesses Can Find International Trade Assistance

February 19, 2015 Business Growth

GM, Ford, and Chrysler are global names. These Michigan-based brands can be found on the streets in every city from Sao Paolo to Shanghai. And, they’re not alone. Small businesses are increasingly entering new overseas markets as well, thanks in part to assistance from the MEDC International Trade Team. As a small business, the hardest [...]

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How an Innovative Educational Program is Closing the skills Gap in Michigan

February 18, 2015 Business Growth

Michigan is on the cutting-edge in training young talent for careers in burgeoning high-tech fields and connecting that talent with employers looking to fill jobs today and tomorrow. The Michigan Advanced Technician Training program, or MAT2 , a three-year car eer development program for young people looking to enter a career in the advanced skill trades, [...]

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Michigan Businesses Heat Up as Temperatures Drop

February 3, 2015 Great Companies

As Michigan residents continue to dig out from the snowfall and temperatures hover around freezing, winter means business for many Michigan companies. Behind the scenes: What goes into running a Michigan ski area Cannonsburg Ski Area in Belmont, for example, thrives on snow-covered slops and dedication from its hard-working team. With 18 ski runs, two terrain [...]

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R&D: Driving the Future of the Automotive Industry

January 29, 2015 Talent Enhancement
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This year, the North American International Auto Show drew its largest crowd in 12 years. More than 800,000 visitors hoped to experience some of the current and future products and technologies we’ll soon see on the road. But beyond this banner year for the show and the industry, is an untold story:  the automobile is [...]

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