Michigan Proactively Invests in High-Tech, Manufacturing Talent of the Future

Nadia Abunasser

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

From early-stage startups to Fortune 500 businesses, it is nearly impossible to plan for future success anymore without hearing about the growing war for talent.


As the demand for highly skilled workers becomes increasingly necessary, it is vital for Michigan to take the lead in making sure the workforce of today — and that of the future — are prepared with the skills and tools they need to compete.

Between now and 2028, the manufacturing industry will face a worker shortage of up to 2.4 million. To avoid a skills gap of this magnitude, states must be creative and steadfast in equipping today’s young people with the skills they need through innovative public-private partnerships and collaboration.

Luckily, Michigan is already taking steps today to build on our tradition of innovation by investing in the workers, thinkers and leaders of tomorrow. These efforts were on full display this month at the Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow (LIFT) Learning Lab summer bridge program, allowing University Prep (U Prep) Science and Math High School students from Detroit to tour the building and meet manufacturers and educators. In the coming school year, U Prep will bring 100 students to the Learning Lab every day to participate in the nationally recognized IGNITE: Mastering Manufacturing curriculum. During the day’s event, stations were set up throughout the Lab, including hydraulics, electric wire circuits, CNC machines and robotics equipment to provide the students a sneak peek into the skills they will develop in the coming year.


The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is proud to have supported LIFT in its development in Detroit and in building the Learning Lab itself; however, the Lab is only one of the many ways the MEDC is building on the state’s manufacturing heritage to help foster the next generation of skilled talent here in Michigan — and with Governor Whitmer’s stated goal of ensuring 60 percent of Michiganders have a postsecondary degree or credential by 2030, our efforts are becoming more important than ever.

Through our Entrepreneurship and Innovation initiative, the MEDC supports SmartZones throughout the state that offer technology business accelerators as well as office and wet lab space for technology-based firms, entrepreneurs and researchers in connection with nearby corporate, university or private research institute R&D efforts. The MEDC also supports early stage funding programs to help provide additional resources and tools to aspiring entrepreneurs to help make their ideas a reality. From supporting the Lean Rocket Lab SmartZone in Jackson seeking out the next great Michigan manufacturing startup to our involvement in the Hacker Fellows program — which recruits and trains emerging high-tech talent in the state — Michigan is aggressively pursuing opportunities to position ourselves as a place where high-tech manufacturing and innovative startups can access the talent they need to grow.

Through the Advanced Transportation Innovation Hub at the University of Michigan and the Advanced Materials Innovation Hub at Michigan Tech University through MEDC’s Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) program, we are also helping build upon our traditional manufacturing strengths in the state. As part of a statewide program, the Innovation Hubs fund translational research applications in a series of transportation- and advanced materials-related areas, including manufacturing processes, with the goal of addressing future or poorly met market needs. These hubs, specifically, tap into the wealth of talent in our state’s higher education pipelines to help support the commercialization of high-tech manufacturing startups.

Whether it is our investments in today’s young people to be the talent of the future or our support for building on Michigan’s manufacturing strengths, the MEDC is doing all it can to help bolster the state on the national and global stage. Because at the end of the day, regardless of what that future may look like, we are committed to ensuring Michigan remains a leader in discovering the high-tech innovations of tomorrow.

To learn more about the MEDC’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation initiative, which provides high-tech startup companies with access to a variety of critical resources, such as funding and expert counsel, from ideation to maturation, visit michiganbusiness.org/entrepreneurship.

To learn more about the services available from the MEDC to help businesses grow, go to michiganbusiness.org.

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