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Singapore Workforce Development Agency visits Michigan to learn about Michigan’s demand-driven workforce development system

Friday, August 01, 2014

Kathy Fagan

LANSING, Mich. – The Singapore Workforce Development Agency spent today visiting the Michigan Workforce Development Agency to learn about Michigan’s industry cluster approach and how it more effectively meets the needs of Michigan employers and job seekers. The group also toured Capital Area Michigan Works! and Accident Fund Holdings Inc.’s Lansing headquarters as well as Lansing-based Cameron Tool Corporation to learn about the company’s apprenticeship program.

"We are honored to host our counterparts from Singapore and hope that we can continue sharing best practices between both the Michigan and the Singapore Workforce Development Agencies,” said Michigan Workforce Development Agency Director Christine Quinn. “We’re proud that our industry work is of interest to them, and I believe that my staff and I can also learn from them as well.”

The delegation, led by Chief Executive Mr. Ng Cher Pong, visited Michigan for two days to learn about its design and implementation of sector strategies, the Michigan Industry Cluster Approach (MICA) and stakeholder collaboration.

MICA creates a framework in which many employers within a single industry engage with the workforce system to identify their demand. In this approach, talent issues may be handled more efficiently through multi-company, industry-focused training programs. Based upon research, WDA selected five industry clusters likely to have the greatest impact on Michigan’s economy in context of talent needs: agriculture, energy, health care, information technology and media, and manufacturing.

Regionally, Michigan Works! Agencies convene employers along with education providers, economic development organizations and other groups associated with workforce development to solve talent challenges. Local clusters are formed based on local needs and are led by industry.

“When the Singapore Workforce Development Agency came across Michigan’s Regional Skills Alliances in the report ‘Designing Local Skills Strategies’ and the Michigan Industry Cluster Approach, it felt that Michigan’s experience in integrating the cluster approach throughout its entire workforce system holds useful insights for our own efforts to strengthen the link between skills supply and how the skills acquired are utilized at workplaces,” Pong said.

In addition to meeting with Michigan WDA officials, the Singapore delegation visited Cameron Tool Corporation to learn about the company’s apprenticeship program, and later toured Capital Area Michigan Works! to learn about some of the employment services and workforce programs offered through Michigan Works! agencies.

“Cameron Tool is just one example of Michigan’s demand driven cluster approach in action,” said Michelle Cordano, executive director of the Capital Area Manufacturing Council at Capital Area Michigan Works!

The council works with private-sector employers to identify and solve common talent challenges for the industry and is one of two industry councils at Capital Area Michigan Works!

“Together, Cameron Tool and the council are able to leverage a variety of services and programs to meet the company’s needs,” said Cordano.

The delegation also visited Accident Fund Holdings Inc.’s headquarters in downtown Lansing and discussed IT talent strategies with local workforce partners including the Capital Area IT Council at Capital Area Michigan Works!

“It’s not uncommon for employers within a sector to have similar challenges and struggles when it comes to recruiting and retention,” said Andrea Ragan, executive director of the Capital Area IT Council. “Bringing them together allows us to develop programs, but also helps them to network and benefit from solutions already in place by their peers. Everyone wins.”

The Workforce Development Agency promotes a flexible, innovative, and effective workforce system within the State of Michigan. The WDA and the Michigan Works! system provide services to employers and job seekers to train and place skilled workers in good jobs across Michigan. To learn more about WDA, visit http://www.michigan.gov/wda.

The Singapore Workforce Development Agency is a statutory board established in 2003 and reports to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Its mission is to lead, drive and champion workforce development, enhancing the employability and competitiveness of Singapore’s workforce. Visit http://www.wda.gov.sg/ for more information.

Capital Area Michigan Works! is a network of resources dedicated to talent investment in greater Lansing. It partners with job seekers to enhance education and career opportunities and with employers to recruit and retain global talent for the region. To learn more about Capital Area Michigan Works!, visit http://www.camw.org/.

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