Michigan Works! Helping Reopen Michigan’s Economy

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LANSING, Mich. – Over the past year, the Michigan Works! network strengthened its long-standing partnership with the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) by assisting with over 1.25 million calls, helping Michigan residents file claims, navigate accounts, and answer questions, producing positive results for hundreds of thousands of Michiganders. These accomplishments represent the work the Michigan Works! network did over and above the career and training services they offer to Michigan residents and the assistance they offer employers with their talent pipelines.

“Michigan Works! agencies across the state have always played an important role assisting the Unemployment Insurance Agency and displaced workers,” said Liza Estlund Olson, UIA Acting Director. “We thank them for going above and beyond throughout the pandemic by providing workers with advanced assistance on their unemployment claims. Our continued partnership during their transition will be essential as the Agency prepares to bring work search reporting requirements for UI claimants back online in the coming weeks.”

Get Back 2 Work Michigan

With the recent increase in vaccination eligibility and a shift toward economic recovery, the Michigan Works! network recognizes the need to pivot from focusing on unemployment issues back to its core mission of getting Michigan residents trained, educated, and back to work. The network is providing services to Michigan job seekers and employers virtually, by telephone, and by appointment over the course of the pandemic.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, we were in a period of emergency relief,” said Jacob Maas, CEO of West Michigan Works!. “We are now shifting into economic recovery. Knowing that the workforce environment is still volatile, we will continue to adapt and innovate to support employers as they return to pre-pandemic production and services.”

As Michigan’s economy starts to open back up things are going to look different than they did prior to the pandemic. The pandemic has greatly increased the number of individuals needing assistance with overcoming barriers to employment so they can achieve their career goals. Some of these barriers in include transportation, housing, child care, food, technology, and health care. Michigan Works! helps job seekers find supportive services to remove those barriers and then works with them to help them find employment.

As the unemployment rate continues to drop, we are beginning to see the remnants of the pre-pandemic economy. Michigan Works! is uniquely positioned to help rebuild Michigan’s economy due to the network’s access to apprenticeships and connections to employers across the state. Many employers are experiencing an increased and urgent need for employees in areas such as industrial, skilled trades, and administrative services. These employers have safety protocols in place and great jobs available.

“The lack of workers is the new pandemic,” John Metts, HR Manager, Springs Window Fashions. “We have had almost no response to our advertised positions. I have a stack of resumes the size of a ream of paper on my desk from an employment website. I have offered each of them an interview via the website and have had zero responses. We have raised our wages. We have tried contacting hundreds of employees who have placed their resumes online through the various employment services and have had zero responses. We can’t even get anyone to come in for an interview.”

Reskilling and increased training are going to play an important part in the state, and nation’s, economic recovery. Supply chains and business models have been severely disrupted and employers are now forced to pivot and reallocate their workers into unfamiliar roles. The upside of this situation is that it is revealing different employee skillsets, which allows employers to rethink the manner in which they distribute work. To help employers meet their evolving needs, the Michigan Works! network has increased its training offerings for job seekers in areas such as transportation, retail, robotics technicians, and CNC machine operations, just to name a few.

“Through the demand-driven approach, Michigan Works! partners with local employers, educators, economic developers, and community organizations to identify workforce needs and skills gaps in order to create a qualified workforce that addresses each region’s current and future talent needs, while, at the same time, fueling the state’s economic future,” said Luann Dunsford, CEO of the Michigan Works! Association. “As the economy recovers, the Michigan Works! network is here connecting job seekers with employers to fill their talent needs. Michigan Works! is your go-to source for workforce development during the economic recovery.”

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