Long-term solutions depend on building a ‘talent pipeline’


(Steve Japinga is a vice president at the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce.)

For employers in the Greater Lansing region, the focus on attracting and retaining talent has been a priority and challenge even before the global pandemic. For the past several years, the annual Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce membership survey has shown that talent and workforce development is the No. 1 priority for regional businesses.

The three things we hear consistently from businesses are:

They need help now.

How do we provide skills in the short term?

How do we build a talent pipeline for the future?

The LRCC is doing multiple things currently to help businesses address these issues.

The LRCC launched its new online job board for LRCC members to use and share their job openings with those seeking employment. The Member Job Board is located on the LRCC website under the “talent” tab and can be accessed at members.lansingchamber.org/jobs.

Additional employer resources are available through regional organizations, including Capital Area Michigan Works!, Lansing Economic Area Partnership, Lansing 5:01, the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau and AARP. Those resources including job searches and job listings, assistance in preparing for interviews, addressing regional needs today and more.

The need for professional trade talent has never been greater. Highly skilled individuals are in high demand for careers in health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing, construction and the automotive industry. Professional trades leverage talent, work ethic, and know-how to keep Michigan’s economy and workforce healthy, solid and growing. Also, these careers often require less schooling and less debt than a traditional four-year degree.

There have also been several programs and policies that the LRCC has supported at the state level to assist businesses with helping workers gain new skills in an economy that continues to change at a rapid pace.

The Michigan Reconnect is a scholarship program that pays workers to attend in-district community colleges and offers a significant tuition discount if attending out-of-district community college. The scholarship is to complete an associate degree or a skill certificate program.

The Futures for Frontliners is a state scholarship program for Michiganders without college degrees who worked in essential industries during the state Covid-19 shutdown last spring. This scholarship provides these frontline workers with tuition-free access to local community colleges to pursue an associate degree or skills certificate, either full-time or part-time — while working.

The Sixty by Thirty is the state’s initiative to increase working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree from 49% today to 60% by 2030. The initiative works to close the skills gap, increase opportunities for better jobs and make the state more competitive for economic growth.

The LRCC also works closely with our regional partners, specifically those in educational institutions, from K-12 to higher education, because the long-term solution is to create a future talent pipeline.

Teach. Talent. Thrive. is a network of connected assets supporting education and talent development in Michigan’s capital area. T3’s partners work to ensure all students are reading at grade level in the third grade, increase high school graduation rates to guarantee all students are college and career ready and increase the number of people who have the education and skills needed to support our continued prosperity into the future. T3 is committed to helping the capital area become the exemplary science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics region in America.

Launch Michigan is another unprecedented partnership of business, education, labor, philanthropy, and civic leaders, as well as parents, all of whom care deeply about education and our state’s collective future.  Launch Michigan wants a high-quality, student-centered system — one that helps every student succeed in school, careers and life. The organization understands implicitly that a robust, thriving public education system is the cornerstone of successful kids, prosperous communities and a strong economy.

The Michigan College Access Network works to encourage Michigan residents to earn postsecondary certificates and degrees. The organization not only helps individuals earn more and promote their well-being, but it also strengthens Michigan’s talent pool, retains and attracts businesses to the state and stimulates Michigan’s economy in the process.

The LRCC also works closely with our partners in business and labor to promote several outstanding apprentice opportunities that are helping build the skilled workforce this region will continue to need in the future.

The LRCC is committed to building and retaining talent in Greater Lansing. We know how critically important it is to our employer’s future success. As the trusted voice of business, we are constantly developing new ways to build the workforce our region needs to be competitive and remain dominant in the global marketplace. 

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