As hiring strategies go, Magna International plans to continue taking advantage of initiatives with a proven track record.

A few years ago the company — its Troy headquarters is one of two dozen Michigan operations for the global auto supplier — worked with the Southeast Michigan Community Alliance (SEMCA) to fill 76 positions at a start-up plant.

The result: A retention rate of 85 percent drawn from a pool of workers who had long been under- or unemployed.

“Most of them are still with us,” said Frank Ervin, Senior Director for Government Affairs. “Some have been promoted and are now in managerial positions.”

Ervin had been surprised when he first learned about subsidized recruitment and training programs, such as Community Ventures, which were administered through state agencies. Working with SEMCA and Michigan Works! the company had filled more than 600 positions for the launch of a Highland Park operation with long-in-need workers. Quality talent, Ervin said, for a fraction of the recruitment and training costs.

More workers will likely be available soon. SEMCA and Michigan Works! are pooling resources from two of its southeast Michigan regions for a radio and social media outreach campaign to develop ready-to-go talent drawn from long under- or un-employed workers.

“After the recession a lot of folks took themselves out of the job market,” said Rana Al-Igoe, Workforce Program Manager with SEMCA. “With the unemployment rate as it is, it’s difficult to find qualified workers. A lot of employers are taking talent from each other.”

Al-Igoe said the initiative is a “talent match-making” formula that flows in both directions, whether pairing job seekers with employers or hiring managers with workers. As the supply-and-demand ratio shifts the initiative hopes to reach, “folks who aren’t in the market but need to be,” Al-Igoe said.

The formula has proven itself to be mutually beneficial. On behalf of hiring managers, SEMCA and MWA serve as the unifying hub through which the pipeline can be filled and drawn from, a foundation built on existing resources at MWA outlets.

“Some employers are asking for too much when looking for workers,” said William Sleight, MWA’s Director for the long term unemployment workgroup. “There are people out there who can do the job with just a little help and training. A lot of these folks may lack confidence. Part of our job is to build that motivation back up and get them the skills — and jobs — they need.”

Ervin said that when Magna decided to reach out to SEMCA several years ago they hadn’t known the resources — to include state and federal subsidies — that are out there waiting to be used.

“A lot of employers don’t know that this assistance is available,” said Ervin. Magna has continued its participation in job-outreach programs to get the long-term un- and under-employed workers back on a payroll.

“It can work on any scale,” said Ervin, who has advised others to set aside any stigma that might be held about the potential workforce. “We have to look beyond that and really make a commitment to give people an opportunity. It’s up to the employers to open their doors to it.”

By James Mitchell

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