Despite upheaval in the automotive industry that began to flame in 2007-08, technological innovation was still moving forward. In particular, the automotive industry and its supply chain were evolving in the space of hybrid, electric, lightweight, alternative fuel and other advanced vehicle technologies, also referred to as “green mobility.”
In 2009, the Workforce Development Agency, State of Michigan (WDA), in collaboration with automotive companies, educational institutions and the workforce system, formed a unique consortium called the Michigan Academy for Green Mobility Alliance. MAGMA’s intention was to address the industry’s skill needs and ensure that the automotive industry had trained workers, especially engineering and technical talent, to grow and prosper moving forward.
Since its creation, MAGMA and its efforts have developed and deployed relevant curriculum, as well as leveraged more than $4.3 million to support training, which led to more than 800 newly skilled workers. The General Accounting Office has even recognized MAGMA as an exemplary practice in workforce development collaboration with industry.
In 2013, WDA and MAGMA collaborated with the Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN) to assume the responsibilities of managing the consortium, including providing coordination between employers, workforce developers, economic developers, education providers, and other community partners to better serve the green mobility industry cluster’s workforce needs.
Today, MAGMA is shifting its focus. While the green mobility phase of the automotive industry is still present, it is no longer at the focal point of the industry and its training needs. With embedded controls, connected vehicles, autonomous vehicles, and more new technologies, there is great demand for new training programs and courses designed specifically for current needs. The current and ongoing problem is the number of individuals who are awarded relevant certificates or degrees compared to job postings in Michigan.
Too few students are graduating from fields the industry needs. One main issue is that the students are coming out of the education system with misaligned perceptions of what the majority of jobs require versus what they would like to do in their day-to-day jobs. This is a two-way street: Companies need to collaborate with educational institutes in order to tap into the workforce at a younger age and show young workers the possible career pathways they can take through training and educational opportunities aside from the conventional four-year degree. On the other hand, students cannot expect to be hired in and design the next Mustang — they must be educated at a young age about the career opportunities that they can pursue beyond high school.
Among the top 20 employers with the most job postings, many are active within MAGMA. The highlighted companies represent active MAGMA members, although there are many more partners that can be found on MAGMA’s website. These companies as well as educational institutions and workforce partners are actively contributing to MAGMA, which is exactly what is needed. MAGMA is a safe space where industry, academia, and government can come together to share ideas and collaborate on programs, free from the fear of competition and poaching. With continued support, MAGMA can regenerate the necessary momentum to create relevant training programs that will in turn create a more organized and better prepared workforce for tomorrow.
This blog post was developed with data and research compiled by Mauro Galus, business partnerships junior associate at WIN.