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Michigan’s Downriver Institutions ‘To Reap Benefits’ Of $4 Million Apprenticeship Grant

Published Thursday, March 26, 2020
by Colin Maloney/The News Herald (Southgate, Michigan)
Michigan’s Downriver Institutions ‘To Reap Benefits’ Of $4 Million Apprenticeship Grant

(DETROIT, MICHIGAN) - With a potential recession on the horizon, economic development organizations need to figure out what buttons to push - and the Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN) presents one such option.

A non-profit consortium comprised of nine community colleges and six Michigan Works! Agencies, WIN recently won a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to support Apprenticeship Programming in Southeast Michigan.

In total, $100 million was awarded for its Closing the Skills Gap Program.

For WIN, the money will support 3,200 Apprenticeship Training Participants and 720 Registered Apprentices in the manufacturing sector over the next four years.

The organization’s mission is to “develop data-driven regional workforce solutions that respond to changing Labor Market demands,” according to Michele Economou Ureste, its Executive Director, who added that even with a strong economy, there’s a need for this type of programming.

“It is ‘needed,’ based on the Labor Market projections ‘that we see every day - the skills gap and labor shortage that advanced manufacturing is facing,’” she said. “Apprenticeship is an ‘attractive alternative career pathway.’  ‘It expedites that whole system of building a talent pool.’  ‘Rather than waiting’ for high school graduates to complete a four-year degree, ‘they can become employed right out of high school, gain in-demand, cutting edge skills that are needed in the workforce.’”

In the Downriver Region, WIN collaborates with Wayne County Community College and the Southeast Michigan Community Alliance.

Throughout Michigan, WIN works with 15 other counties.

Ureste said the Apprenticeship Program uses an “Earn-While-You-Learn” Model, enabling Apprentices to work toward an associate’s degree while participating in the program.

She also said the program is beneficial to employers whose Employee demographics might be shifting.

“Apprenticeship ‘is a really great way to develop talent,’” she said. “When employers are faced with having a lot of their workforce expected to retire, (Apprenticeship) ‘is a way to transfer the knowledge of aging Workers within their companies.’”

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