by Scott McClallen
About $13.5 million in taxpayer grants from the Going PRO Talent Fund will help train 8,500 workers across nearly 300 Michigan businesses to earn industry-recognized credentials and strong wages.
“The Going PRO Talent Fund is an investment in our state’s greatest asset – our people – helping them develop the skills they need to advance their careers and ‘make it’ in Michigan,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “These grants help us put thousands of Michiganders on paths to good-paying jobs and empower hundreds of Michigan businesses across the state develop the talent they need to compete in the global economy.”
The program launched in 2014. Since then, more than 6,000 Michigan businesses have received Going PRO Talent Fund awards to train 175,000 new and existing workers.
More than 60% of the employers receiving funds are small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Training must fill a demonstrated talent need experienced by the employer and result in the employee acquiring a credential for a transferable skill recognized by the industry.
Susan Corbin, the director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, said these grants keep Michigan businesses competitive globally.
“Programs like the Going PRO Talent Fund help businesses throughout Michigan train the talent they need in order to stay competitive in the global economy,” Corbin said in a statement. “Investments like these help us connect individuals and business leaders with tailored opportunities and unique resources they need to prosper. Together, we are creating a competitive and innovative environment that improves the quality of life for people who live, work and do business in Michigan.”
The average training cost per worker is $1,250. According to 2021 data, average hourly wages for Going PRO Talent Fund participants increased by $5.71 six months after completing training.
“The Going PRO Talent Fund has continued to help Michigan employers retain their workers by providing the necessary support for them to help upskill their workforce,” LEO’s Office of Employment and Training director Stephanie Beckhorn said in a statement. “These trainings have also provided an opportunity for employees to gain industry-recognized credentials they need to grow and thrive in these in-demand careers.”
LEO makes Going PRO Talent Fund awards to employers through Michigan Works! Agencies. Participating employers play an integral role in defining their crucial training needs, then work with their local MWAs and other partners to develop strategic training plans.
David Worthams, director of Employment Policy for the Michigan Manufacturers Association, said the talent fund is “arguably the best talent development program the state of Michigan has to offer.”
“As we get into the next cycle of grants, employers and their employees will see huge strides in new skills that we need as we move into the future of manufacturing in the state, Worthams said in a statement. “This is another reason why Michigan is one of the best states to do business in.”
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi. In 2021, he published a book on technology and privacy. He co-hosts the weekly Michigan in Focus podcast.