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LEO | Gov. Whitmer Awards $3 Million to Help Under-Represented Youth Build Brighter Futures in Michigan

Michigan Business Network
March 20, 2023 12:00 PM

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Young Professionals initiative offers meaningful introduction to the world of work, including career exploration, jobs skills and earned income

LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) announced the recipients of Young Professionals grants totaling $3 million to provide under-represented young residents with a meaningful introduction to the world of work, including on-site, hybrid and virtual career exploration and preparation activities, jobs skills and earned income.

"To keep young Michiganders home and attract even more talent to Michigan, we must focus on economic opportunity and personal freedom,” said Governor Whitmer. “Young Professionals grants will help us do just that by focusing on supporting people across the state, including those with disabilities, and giving young Michiganders the tools and access they need to get high-skill, in-demand, and good-paying jobs. Let’s keep working together so everyone can build a brighter future in Michigan.”

Young Professionals supports young residents, ages 14-24, who face barriers on the path to obtain employment by exposing them to multiple career and educational opportunities, earning a short-term training certificate, and obtaining work experience.

Young Professionals grants have been awarded to the state’s Michigan Works! network, with the 16 agencies receiving awards ranging from $100,000 to $250,000 to support the creation and/or enhancement of a locally-developed Young Professionals employment initiative to meet the unique needs of the communities they serve.

“The Young Professionals initiative supports our future workforce by placing young adults on the path to achieve lifelong economic self-sufficiency,” said Stephanie Beckhorn, Director of LEO’s Office of Employment and Training. “This funding allows our Michigan Works! partners to take a localized approach to reduce youth unemployment, close equity gaps, address talent shortages, and remove barriers to employment.”

Michigan Works! provides career preparation, employment opportunities and supportive services throughout the state. These agencies play a crucial role in the recruitment of employers, with a focus on regionally in-demand industries such as construction, energy, healthcare, information technology, manufacturing and mobility.

“The ability for us to work with young adults and provide them the opportunity to gain work experience in their chosen field is paramount to their later success,” said Jody Kerbyson, Chief Executive Officer of GST Michigan Works! which provides services to Genesee, Huron, Lapeer, Sanilac, Shiawassee and Tuscola counties. “Many of those we encounter aren’t aware of the employment prospects that are available to them in their own neighborhoods. It’s great when we can make that connection and hopefully keep them in the region for the long term.”

The Young Professionals initiative aligns with Michigan’s Sixty by 30 goal to increase the number of working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree to 60% by 2030.

Parents and young Michiganders should contact their local Michigan Works! Agency to find out what programs are available to support their academic and career training goals. To contact the nearest Michigan Works! Service Center, call 800-285-WORKS (9675) or visit MichiganWorks.org.


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