New grant will help Oakland County Michigan Works! fill need for skilled workers

$625,000 grant will cover costs for about 250 apprenticeships across Oakland County

Oakland County’s efforts to provide experienced workers for local businesses just got a hefty boost.

PONTIAC, Mich. – Oakland County’s efforts to provide experienced workers for local businesses just got a hefty boost.

The county’s Michigan Works! program just received a $625,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

The grant is intended to benefit both job seekers and companies in Oakland County by covering the cost for 250 apprenticeships. It’s a new funding program called Advantage: Apprenticeships.

Liz Rivard-Weston, apprenticeship success coordinator at Oakland County Michigan Works!, refers to apprenticeships as “opportunities to earn while you learn” and a way for companies to cultivate talent.

“Registered apprenticeship allows companies to bring in folks that have a lower skill set than they would typically look at and then train them up,” she said.

She believes helping cover costs during the current labor shortage could go a long way.

“One of the goals of this grant is to help folks who are not typically represented in apprenticeships get into registered apprenticeship programs, this could be a great opportunity for anybody who job was displaced by the pandemic to get back into the working world,” Rivard-Weston said.

She said 200,000 women have left their jobs in Michigan during the pandemic and the county’s Michigan Works! offices offer support services including transportation and child care to address those barriers.

They are also working to get veterans into apprenticeships. Michigan Works! hosted a virtual workshop for employers to highlight how veterans make ideal apprentice candidates at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

“Veterans bring great leadership skills, a lot of great soft skills that employers are looking for and also a lot of great hard skills that can translate nice into civilian opportunities,” Rivard-Weston said.

The workshop featured the U.S. Department of Labor, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, state and county veterans services representatives. More than 200 Oakland County employers are registered.

For more information on apprenticeship opportunities, reach out to your local Michigan Works! job center.

Click here to learn more about Michigan Works!

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.