For the cerebral career-minded

Kathleen Achtenberg

Monday, October 26, 2015

'We run on Brainpower' campaign attracts high-skill talent to auto-industry jobs

It is predicted that there will be more changes in vehicle technology and materials over the next five to 10 years than have occurred in the last 100 years of automotive vehicle production. In order to bring these technologies and materials to market, there is a need to attract and retain talent within the automotive industry.

Talent is one of the defining issues that Michigan’s automotive industry and companies face in order to continue to grow and transform. According to the pwc 18th annual CEO survey in 2015, 76 percent of auto CEOs are worried about the availability of key skills when it comes to talent. This is up from 60 percent in 2014, indicating a need to attract and retain skilled talent in the industry.   

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is taking a lead role to promote the cutting edge technical careers in the state’s automotive industry with the We Run on Brainpower campaign, showcasing what opportunities that await students and professionals, in turn helping to attract and retain the talent we need.

Since the launch in August, announced by Gov. Rick Snyder at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars, the campaign has received industry and media attention, as well as resonating with target audiences.

The acceleration of vehicle technology is creating new jobs that weren’t traditionally associated with the field. We Run on Brainpower showcases career opportunities and advancements being made here and takes a deep dive into the state’s automotive talent through compelling content, both written and visual, and giving behind-the-scenes stories of tomorrow’s vehicle technologies.

While Michigan is home to the highest concentration of engineers, designers, innovators and IT specialists in the nation who are working to develop what the automotive industry is going to look like in the future, additional talent will be needed in order for Michigan to remain the center of the automotive industry. However, the industry faces outdated perceptions that hinder consideration for the industry as a career choice among current and future job seekers.   

According to a 2014 study by MICHAuto—an economic initiative within the Detroit Regional Chamber—only 41 percent of influencers are very likely to recommend a job in the auto industry. Influencers include parents with children between the ages of 12–17, adults in leadership roles within youth organizations, high school and college level educators, career counselors and academic advisors. The mission of We Run on Brainpower is to change perceptions through shedding light on what makes Michigan’s automotive industry an exciting and viable career path. 

“We want to combat the notion that careers involving innovation in technology happen elsewhere, because that is simply not true,” said Kevin Kerrigan. “When you look at the automotive companies that are setting up their North American headquarters or research and development centers, it is here in Michigan.” 

The stories cover the automakers themselves, as well as the hundreds of suppliers based in Michigan, with professionals in the automotive industry giving candid interviews about the exciting technologies they work on and develop. From engineers with DENSO International America Inc. talking about connected vehicle technology to how a Toyota Motor Corp. scientist sees Detroit as a hub for developing alternative energy, these stories communicate what makes Michigan a place of innovation. 

The content also includes lifestyle features about living in Michigan, with engineers describing their passions outside of work. These stories showcase Michigan’s natural beauty, the state’s reputation as a place to experience outdoor sports like hiking and mountain biking, as well as the ongoing renaissance of Detroit that has sparked a new breed of creativity and entrepreneurship.

Along with written content, the MEDC teamed up with Ford Motor Co., Visteon Corporation’s technical center in southeast Michigan and Toyota to create “A Day in the Life” videos that highlight some of the engineers who are on the cutting edge of today’s auto tech scene. 

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