Mercy Health Recognized as Employer of the Year by Michigan Works! Association


West Michigan Provider Honored for Innovative Approaches to
Talent Development, Career Pathways

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Mercy Health was honored at a statewide workforce conference today for its commitment to developing a pipeline of skilled and competent health care talent in the state.

Named the Michigan Works! Association 2017 Employer of the Year, Mercy Health received its award at the association’s annual conference in Mt. Pleasant.

“Mercy Health has taken a leadership role in growing the number of skilled, educated health care workers across its region,” said Luann Dunsford, chief executive officer of the Michigan Works! Association. “They have led a strong collaboration with West Michigan Works! in the creation of the USDOL medical assistant and sterile processing apprenticeship programs and the nationally-recognized Career Pathways initiative. At the same time, Mercy Health has broken new ground in its efforts to promote diversity in hiring among the construction partners in the multi-million-dollar Mercy construction project in Muskegon, Michigan.”

Read more: Mercy Health Recognized as Employer of the Year by Michigan Works! Association

World’s Largest Kayak Maker Will Add 153 New Jobs in Muskegon

KL Outdoor (KLO), which manufactures Sun Dolphin Kayaks, has chosen Muskegon as the location for its global headquarters. The company will be investing $9.2 million and creating 153 jobs over the next two to three years. West Michigan Works! will assist KLO with training and hiring.

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MiCareerQuest Announces Date for 2018

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Five reasons why employers should participate


It’s a fact: 37.5 million baby boomers will retire in the next decade and only 21 million workers will enter the workforce to replace them. (2015 Skills Gap report, Deloitte)

To address the future shortage of talent, a regional collaboration of employers and ISDs is encouraging youth to choose careers in West Michigan’s high-demand industries through an innovative career exploration event.

The event—MiCareerQuest—will take place on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. Now is the time for interested employers to sign on. Here’s why they should:

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  1. MiCareerQuest is an opportunity for local employers to inform the career decisions of West Michigan middle and high school students. The event will bring 9,000 youth from across West Michigan to engage in conversation with industry professionals and participate in hands-on activities. Eighty-four percent of 2017 student participants learned about employment and education/training opportunities that they didn’t know existed before the event (that’s 7,560 students exposed to new job opportunities!).
  2. MiCareerQuest gives professionals who work in these high-demand jobs an opportunity to share their enthusiasm for the job, show students how to use the tools of the trade and provide a first-hand experience of career opportunities available to them right here in West Michigan. MiCareerQuest often reinvigorates their passion for the work that they do.
  3. MiCareerQuest provides an opportunity for West Michigan employers to connect with their peers, promote careers within their industry and build relationships with competitors and suppliers.
  4. MiCareerQuest builds meaningful collaborations between educators and the business community. Teachers and counselors learn about local employer needs, new technologies and skills relevant for today’s workforce. Educators can then apply this knowledge to their classroom content, building in-depth and practical knowledge of the workplace.
  5. MiCareerQuest helps companies think outside of the box about unique ways to engage their future workforce. Several participating employers have implemented their exhibit design and activities into their recruitment process to provide a unique experience for job seekers, particularly at career fairs and school events.  



  • 9,000 students
  • 87 schools from across West Michigan
  • 793 employees from 70 companies
  • 100+ high demand careers highlighted
  • 400 Volunteers


To learn more and to view a video from last year’s event, visit To get involved, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


West Michigan Employers Urged to Prepare Now for Competitive Training Award

With the State of Michigan’s approval of another year of funding for the Skilled Trades Training Fund (STTF), West Michigan Works! is encouraging employers who hope to receive funding to attend upcoming information sessions to ensure their applications are complete and competitive.

Since 2013, the STTF has injected millions of dollars into the Michigan economy for short term training in high-demand occupations. The thirteen county West Michigan region (Region 4) has historically received the highest award totals: $2.9 million in 2014, $2.5 million in 2015 and $3.5 million in 2016. 

Deb Lyzenga, Regional Director of Business Solutions for West Michigan Works!, is confident that the region’s high demand industries—construction, health care, information technology and manufacturing—will again see a significant influx of training dollars, but is encouraging employers to attend an information session. “With changes to this year’s application process, it’s more important than ever for employers to know the basics, such as eligibility, allowable training and metrics up front” said Lyzenga. “We can then spend more time with individual employers crafting a competitive, fundable plan that outlines their talent gaps and lays out a strategy to address them.”

Successful applications for the STTF create public-private partnerships to design customized training models that adapt to employers’ changing demands for talent. Businesses that request funding must actively participate in the development of the training and must commit to hiring and/or retaining individuals at the completion of training. Extra consideration will be given this year to applications with strategies for hiring targeted populations—Veterans, individuals with disabilities, returning citizens and older workers—and those that include a US Department of Labor registered apprenticeship.

Information sessions are scheduled from August 29 – 31, 2017 throughout the West Michigan Works! region. To see all locations and register for a session visit:

Visit by Secretary of Labor and Governor Highlights Health Care Apprenticeship Program

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Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Michigan Talent and Economic Development Director Roger Curtis were in Grand Rapids on Monday to learn more about the success of a health care apprenticeship program in West Michigan.

Read more: Visit by Secretary of Labor and Governor Highlights Health Care Apprenticeship Program

Labor Participation Brief

Talent 2025 recently released their Labor Force Participation Rate research brief. The rate is an important measure of the health of the economy. While the unemployment rate measures the number of individuals who are not working and looking for work as a proportion of the number of individuals in the labor force, the labor force participation rate looks at the size of the labor force compared to the total adult population.

Historically our region struggles with a low labor participation rate (meaning people are voluntarily opting out of work or seeking work). The report puts together seven key recommendations on how employers can engage workers and pushes employers to think differently about their recruitment or hiring practices.

Barry County Service Center Moves to Downtown Hastings

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On July 3, the West Michigan Works! Service Center in Barry County opened its doors in a new location. The opening was formally recognized at an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony on July 12. Attendees included Mayor Tossava, Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger, Barry County Chamber president and board members, West Michigan Works! staff and community members.

"In 2017, local economic prosperity hinges on talent development and skills training. Having this regional workforce resource located right here in the heart of Barry County is a significant benefit to all of our communities, job-seekers and employers."
- Travis Alden, President, Barry County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Alliance

Read more: Barry County Service Center Moves to Downtown Hastings

Want to Start an Apprenticeship Program? We Can Help!


Is your company interested in developing a registered apprenticeship program? Why do it alone?  

Apprenticeships have been used to train labor and address critical talent needs for over 75 years. West Michigan Works! is now part of a statewide initiative to expand apprenticeship programs. By acting as a liaison with the US Department of Labor, we can help you build an apprenticeship program to meet your workforce needs.

Registered Apprenticeship Programs provide many benefits to employers, including: a pipeline of highly skilled workers, increased loyalty, increased productivity and lower turnover.

West Michigan Works! has Registered Apprenticeship Programs covering several occupations. Our current programs and those in development include:

Healthcare:  Medical Assistant, Central Processing Sterilization Technician
Advanced Manufacturing:  Industrial Maintenance Mechanic, Tool & Die*, CNC Machinist*
Information Technology:  IT Support Technician* 
*Program currently in development

By participating in one of our employer consortiums, you can enjoy the following benefits of working with us:

  • We are your liaison with the Department of Labor making program development and administration seamless
  • Collaboration with local community colleges and training providers to develop the best supporting curriculum with flexibility to your individual needs
  • Connections with high school apprenticeship feeder programs and other community resources for development of a talent pipeline
  • Recruitment and assessment of candidates so they are apprenticeship ready
  • A forum to collaborate and share best practices with other employers in your industry


We’d like to hear from you about your apprenticeship needs! Contact Jayne Lindblom, Apprenticeship Success Coordinator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 616-336-3885. 

New CNA Lab Opens at Muskegon Service Center

On Tuesday, July 11, 2017, West Michigan Works!, in partnership with Muskegon Community College (MCC), unveiled their new certified nurse assistant (CAN) learning lab. The lab features medical equipment, human manikins and a smart board for students in the CNA program at MCC.

The lab in Muskegon is the third of its kind located in West Michigan Works! service center.

Read More>

Grant Funding to Provide Access to IT Training

The Grand Rapids Community Foundation recently awarded $20,000 in grant funding to support boot camp technology training for local employees. The grant will provide low-wage employees, who face barriers to professional development, the opportunity to learn the technology skills employers need. Participants will learn skills such as software coding and business analysis. West Michigan Works! is partnering with Grand Circus and the SOURCE on the program.

West Michigan Works! is part of West Michigan Tech Talent (WMTT), a collaboration between community organizations, employers and educators to help grow, recruit, develop and retain a world class IT workforce in West Michigan. Want to learn more or get involved with WMTT? Visit their website:

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Grand Rapids Business Journal: Nonprofit wins grant for tech training program