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.

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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:

Read More:

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

New CNA Course Graduates First Class

Family Celebrates CNA Graduate

West Michigan Works! has partnered with the Michigan Career and Technical Institute (MCTI) to help fill talent gaps in health care and provide new opportunities for job seekers who experience barriers to employment.

A 13-week long CNA course provides no-cost training to those wanting to enter the field or needing to renew their licensing. It begins with soft-skills workshops led by West Michigan Works! to prepare students for work. This is followed by hands-on technical training and class work to prepare them to become CNAs.

Graduate Brenner Addresses Class at CNA Graduation

CNA Graduate Prepares for Graduation CeremonyParticipants in the Kent County program hosted by the Westside Service Center in Grand Rapids recently graduated. Graduates will complete a career portfolio and have a chance to meet with potential employers.

Courses are also being hosted by West Michigan Works! in Muskegon and Ottawa Counties in collaboration with local educators and employers.

Read More:

West Michigan Works!: “New CNA Course Offered at Kent County Service Center”
Grand Rapids Business Journal: “Partnership make CNA certification affordable”
WZZM: “No cost 13 week course available for CNA certification”

How Will Proposed Budget Cuts Impact Our Services?

A Message from the CEO


According to the president's 2018 budget priorities, the administration is requesting $9.6 billion for the Department of Labor, a $2.5 billion (21 percent) decrease from the 2017 annualized CR (Continued Resolution) level.

Some of our community partners will be impacted by these cuts. While West Michigan Works! will not weigh in on the appropriateness of the funding levels, we pose the following questions:

  • Is the Gerald R. Ford Job Corps at risk of closing? If so, how will hundreds of youth who receive the skills needed to succeed in today’s workforce be served? 
  • How many West Michigan seniors are served through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCEP)? If their funding is reduced, who will provide work-based job training for these low-income, unemployed seniors? 
  • How will these cuts impact our community?


The cuts also raise questions related to our own programs and services:

  • In coordination with community colleges in West Michigan, we have been working hard to meet employer demand by expanding apprenticeship programs. Does "helps States expand apprenticeships" mean that we can expect an increase in funding toward that end?
  • With "decreased support for job training and employment service formula grants, shifting more responsibility for funding these services to States, localities and employers," who will provide the supports needed to connect job seekers to employers? Will we see a 21 percent reduction in funding across all programs?
  • How will these cuts impact your business?


Over the last four years, Michigan Works! agencies in West Michigan (and many throughout the state) have worked strategically and thoughtfully to reduce costs by eliminating contracted services, and the system as a whole has consolidated administrative agencies (from 24 to 16). All while retaining a high level of service to our employers and job seekers. There is no room for additional cuts without risking the quality and availability of services.

Call to action

If you have received services from Michigan Works! and have benefited from the high level of professionalism and quality of service, we are asking you to write to your congressional leaders. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a few in Washington, D.C. and they reminded me that our country's system of checks and balances allows for members of the House and Senate to counter the president's priorities with the priorities of the their constituents.

Please write to your congressional representatives to encourage them to continue to make job training and employment services a priority. If you need assistance - where to send or a sample letter - please reach out to me directly at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thank you,

Jacob Maas

Greenville Manufacturer to Add Up to 70 Jobs

Milacron LLC, a manufacturer of plastic injection molding equipment, will be consolidating locations this summer. The decision will result in a $5 million investment in its Greenville facility and the addition of up to 70 new jobs. A collaboration between regional partners, including Montcalm Community College, Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center and West Michigan Works!, played a role in the decision to stay and expand in Greenville.

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MiCareerQuest 2017

Career Exploration Event Introduces Youth to In-Demand Careers 

“The exhibits were like real life job experiences,” said a middle school student. “I thought we were just going to listen to a whole bunch of speakers, but I like how you guys changed it up!”

Read more: MiCareerQuest 2017

Job Seeker Services Now Offered at North Kent Community Services

West Michigan Works! is proud to announce the location of a new affiliate site in Rockford. North Kent Community Services (NKCS), located at 10075 Northland Dr NE, is the largest food pantry and resource center in Northern Kent County. Michigan Works! staff will now be available at NKCS on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Job seekers can visit during these hours to receive a variety of employment services at no cost.

"We are pleased to partner with North Kent Community Services to better coordinate services for residents in northern Kent County," West Michigan Works! CEO Jacob Maas said. "Employers are looking for talent. This new location will offer a variety of job search resources to make that connection."

Read More:
MLive: North Kent Community Services joins with West Michigan Works! to offer resume assistance
Grand Rapids Business Journal: Workforce development agency partners for new location

New CNA Course Offered at Kent County Service Center

Trudy Brenner inside the CNA classroom at the Westside Service Center in Grand Rapids

The Westside Service Center now opens its doors to job seekers, employers and nursing manikins. A cohort of 11 adults are enrolled in a 13-week certified nursing assistant (CNA) course at the service center and will hopefully walk out with a new job.

Unlike some of the other students, one student in the cohort has many years of personal and professional CNA experience already; she’s taken care of family members with cancer, her Down syndrome son and in-home clients battling stage 4 illnesses. Trudy Brenner entered the class not only to become recertified as a CNA, but begin a new chapter of her life.

“Even though my certification only lapsed last fall, this class is a challenge. I’ve already learned new terminology and had to brush up on familiar terms,” Brenner said.

The program is a partnership between West Michigan Works! and Michigan Career and Technical Institute (MCTI), the training arm to Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS). MRS works with individuals with disabilities to remove barriers to training and employment. 

Read more: New CNA Course Offered at Kent County Service Center

Ottawa County Service Center Welcomes New Manager

Allise Wilkerson, Service Center Manager

West Michigan Works! has announced the promotion of Allise Wilkerson to Manager of its service center in Ottawa County.

Wilkerson has been with Michigan Works! since 2010 and brings a wealth of program and managerial experience to her new position.  She began her career working with job seekers in the welfare to work program and most recently served as assistant manager for the service center in Holland.

“I am looking forward to building and growing relationships with community partners to promote and develop talent within Ottawa County.”

-Allise Wilkerson 

Read more: Ottawa County Service Center Welcomes New Manager

The 2017 Hot Jobs! List is Here

West Michigan Works! recently announced the release of its “2017 Hot Jobs List,” the top 100 jobs in the region’s high-growth industries: construction, manufacturing, information technology, health sciences, agriculture and professional and administrative services. 

The Hot Jobs Lists provides a regional look at in-demand occupations; those with significant openings today, that are expected to see considerable growth and that lead to self-sufficiency through living wages and opportunities for advancement. To create the list, West Michigan Works! gathers state labor market information and data from job analytic programs. The data is then presented to employers for feedback and insight into regional hiring needs that creates a true representation of what is going on regionally.

Because of its West Michigan focus, the Hot Jobs List serves as a decision-making guide for many regional organizations.

“At Muskegon Community College we appreciate the Hot Jobs! List as it demonstrates the openings in our training fields and points us to emerging job titles to incorporate into our programs. We like the regional outlook as it matches our career placement region; we know that we are giving relevant information and guidance to students.”

-Dan Rinsema-Sybenga, Dean of Academic Affairs at Muskegon Community College

Read more: The 2017 Hot Jobs! List is Here