This article appeared in the July 2019 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
For Tier One automotive suppliers, manufacturing can be an intense enterprise. You constantly work to stay ahead of the competition, develop innovative new products, manage the ever-changing needs of customers along the supply chain and respond quickly to a growing demand for faster production, quicker turnaround and greater efficiency. With finite resources on hand, it can be difficult to allocate the funding you need to train future talent. Luckily for ADAC Automotive and thousands of other Michigan businesses, the Going PRO Talent Fund is a source for funding workforce development programs.
“What we’ve seen is that for all the new technology that is there to improve production, manufacturers are as dependent on a skilled human workforce as we’ve ever been — people remain the lifeblood of what we do,” said Peter Hungerford, chief operating officer for ADAC Automotive, a leading manufacturer of automotive access technology headquartered in Grand Rapids and employing more than 1,200 people across the state. “Thankfully, the Going PRO program has helped us to pursue talent efforts we may not have been able to without that available funding.”
Through 2019, the Fund has provided more than $100 million in funding for talent and workforce development programs, while directly funding an average of $32,068 to 2,234 Michigan businesses. For Fiscal Year 2019, funding increased to a current high of $29.1 million while MMA and statewide manufacturers continue to advocate for increased funding for 2020 and beyond.
“Since 2015, ADAC has used that funding source to develop an apprenticeship program for moldmaking and assembly operations,” explained Hungerford. “Through partnerships with Muskegon Community College and West Michigan Works!, we’ve been able to leverage that funding to fill whatever holes may exist in our workforce.”
For manufacturers struggling to train workers, Hungerford believes the benefits of the Going PRO program are clear.
“I’ve found two crucial benefits to the Going PRO program,” Hungerford stated. “First, at its core it serves a great purpose to help people develop the skills they need for lasting career opportunities in a way that is more flexible for employers than a lot of other funding sources. Second, it creates a method for manufacturers to build better relationships with local training resources and educators from K-12, community colleges, tech centers and universities.”
Interested manufacturers looking to Going PRO as a talent solution should consider a few key points before submitting an application with their local Michigan Works! Agency (MWA):
- Have a dedicated Going PRO staffer — Building a talent program from scratch is difficult enough, but doing it while trying to manage a dozen other projects may be too complicated. Select a willing team member to manage your Going PRO program from the application to the program tracking requirements.
- Determine your weak points before applying — A favorable Going PRO application targets the type of talent you need, the training they’ll require and the full spectrum from beginning to end. Sit down with your leadership and decide what you really want out of the program and prioritize that in the application.
- Use Going PRO for relationship-building as well as talent training — Going PRO demands a working relationship with local MWAs, educational resources, government agencies, etc. These relationships can be useful in other aspects of your business so use the development of Going PRO to strengthen these connections.
“Your company can’t just think its way to prosperity — it takes a long-term, team-wide effort and outside funding can be a big difference-maker,” said Hungerford. “The Going PRO program has been a reliable lifeline for ADAC’s talent development. No matter your size, resources, or needs, it’s worth your time to look into Going PRO.”