The competition for high-tech talent is causing states to shift their economic development strategies. In November, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced a new position and hire – Kerry Ebersole Singh as chief talent solutions and engagement officer. Her focus is on developing high-wage skills growth by working with businesses, higher education institutions and communities to attract, retain and cultivate talent critical to growing its economy. The Detroiter recently connected with her on all things talent – including the state’s Talent Action Team.
What’s your vision for Michigan’s talent 10 years from now?
Through my work at MEDC, I’m laser-focused on cultivating a culture of lifelong learning throughout the state so that as industry evolves, our workforce is primed to adapt along with it. To make this a reality, we’re strengthening the collaboration between industry and academia by working with educators to create flexible training courses that meet industry needs while supporting employers in offering mentorship and experiential programs for future talent.
Given the speed of innovation, what do we need to do differently to ensure our workforce keeps pace and can meet employer needs?
We know talent is the top priority for CEOs deciding where to locate and grow, and in Michigan we have the resources to address their needs from Day 1. We’re continuing to invest in programs and customized solutions that upskill our workforce, including programs like Michigan Reconnect and Going Pro, which are funded in the bipartisan state budget Governor Whitmer signed for fiscal year 2023.
What is the biggest challenge facing Michigan in terms of talent?
Every state faces a universal challenge of how to attract, keep and grow their workforce to meet employer needs. Here in Michigan, we’re taking bold steps to attract and retain talent while upskilling our workforce to remain competitive, ultimately working to reach the Governor’s statewide goal of 60% of our workforce having a postsecondary degree or credential by 2030.
How do we “future-proof” our workforce to ensure it has the skills for the jobs of tomorrow?
We need to embrace a culture of lifelong learning while also investing in programs and partnerships that equip our workforce with the skills they need to remain competitive and meet employer needs. That’s why at MEDC, we’re engaged with education partners at all levels to facilitate public/private partnerships with employers that will help our workforce begin preparing today for the jobs of tomorrow.
Which of the state’s talent initiatives are you most excited about?
Building on our commitment to providing concierge-level support to businesses looking to grow and expand, the MEDC convened a Talent Action Team to launch the first focused effort on supporting the talent transition in the EV and mobility sectors. The team’s goal is to train thousands of workers in the first year by delivering professional development programs that engage workers in improving their skills and competencies in line with in-demand roles.
This new model of workforce development aims to reshape a once-fragmented and dispersed landscape of resources and programs into a hub of innovation and collaboration, all centered on the people that have made Michigan a powerhouse of the auto industry for over a century.