Shawn Wright| Crain’s Detroit Business

The Workforce Intelligence Network will be one of the agencies to take a lead role in the recently announced Career Jump Start program.

Employers will be courted to have a formal relationship with schools, students will be given tours of companies in high-growth fields and educators will have access to more data.

The program, undertaken by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., is designed to address the talent gap between Michigan businesses and job seekers in the state. Through the program, a total of 10 career liaisons across the state will help high school students and parents identify high-demand careers as well as training and educational programs.

WIN will oversee the program in Region 10, encompassing Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties. The partnership is conducted through Oakland Community College.

“(OCC) was the recipient of the funding through the state, and because they’re an active member in WIN we decided to partner on this role,” said Lisa Katz, executive director of WIN. “Their funding is going toward a staff person who will be housed with us.”

The 10 career liaison specialists are placed at community colleges around the state and will help bridge the gap between high school students and businesses in high-demand industries — a key part of WIN’s mission. Among those sectors included are IT, health care and advanced manufacturing.

The Career Jump Start program targets 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.

WIN’s liaison will have access to all of its data and information, Katz said.

In addition, WIN will collaborate with two other region liaisons who will cover the rest of the nonprofit’s area of nine southeast Michigan counties. The goal, Katz said, is to coordinate an array of activities to help students become familiar with the particular jobs. Although details are still being fleshed out, WIN has some ideas of how employers and students will engage.

“It could be things such as touring facilities of employers in those high-demand fields,” Katz said. “It also could involve making connections between employers and schools so that, perhaps, the employer has a formal relationship with the school, where they provide mentors and information about careers on an ongoing basis, almost like adopting the school from a career awareness standpoint.”

Any interested business can participate in the program. All it needs to do is contact its regional liaison with existing events or programs, such as career days, that it wants to advertise to high school students, and the liaison will distribute the information to school administrators.

“A lot of it is going to be dot-connecting and raising awareness around jobs that we expect to be critical for Southeast Michigan’s economic success that young people don’t seem to be moving into right now,” Katz said.

For more information, visit

Share On