Bridget Vis| Crain’s Detroit Business

A new Michigan Economic Development Corp. program is designed to address the talent gap between Michigan businesses and job seekers in the state.

The Career Jump Start program was launched Wednesday afternoon at Henry Ford Community College.

That talent gap was identified earlier this year at Gov. Rick Snyder’s Education and Economic Summits, and the Career Jump Start program will help ensure  businesses have skilled employees to meet their future job demand, said Michael A. Finney, president and CEO of MEDC.

Finney said the program works by establishing 10 career liaison specialists at community colleges around the state that will act as a conduit between high school students and businesses in high-demand industries.

“The program will allow the students to know what career options are available to them and what sort of training they need,” said Finney.

The program will target those students who are going into the technical or skilled trade certificate programs and industries that are already expressing need for skilled applicants like welders, mechanical engineers and health care careers, he said.

Any business can participate in the program by contacting their regional liaison with existing events or programs, such as career days, that they want to advertise to high school students, and the liaison will distribute it to school administrators, said Amy Cell, senior vice president of talent enhancement at MEDC.

“One of the benefits of Career Jump Start to businesses is that it will help reduce the time they spend trying to find who to contact in order to reach students with their program since they only will have to contact one person,” said Cell.

She said the structure for Career Jump Start is already in place, including the 10 liaisons, and that they are currently in the process of establishing relationships with school administrators and employers with the goal of having the program fully functional by January.

They hope to have tens of thousands of students – and hundreds of businesses – participate in Career Jump Start, she said.

So far, the $50,000 in funding for the program came from the 2013 MEDC corporate funding budget, said Cell, who added that they hope the community colleges and companies will see the value of the program and eventually contribute to the funding.

To find out how to contact the regional liaison or for more information on the program, go to its website

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