Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates: Initiation and Installation Ceremony 2016

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During the fall, Jobs for Michigan Graduates (JMG) students across the state, and Jobs for America’s Graduates students nationally, are inducted into the organization and JMG Career Association officers are installed.  Yesterday, Escanaba High School’s Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates hosted their Initiation and Installation ceremony.   Students gave campaign speeches to kick off the event, they elected officers, and hosted a luncheon to celebrate their commitment to their current and future success.

Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates is a statewide organization dedicated to raising Michigan’s high school graduation rate and ensuring successful transition into post-secondary education and employment. The program provides mentoring, job readiness, leadership development, and other academic support for students at risk of dropping out and to those students that have already left the educational system. The program also provides college and career-transition services with ongoing support to ensure success. This year, Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates will serve 1600 students across 25 Michigan cities.

JMG is a curriculum that the UPward Talent Council Michigan Works! uses in the classroom to build competencies and essential skills in students. The curriculum provides academic support to help keep students on track for graduation and enhance their critical work skills.

Visit to learn more.

Local Businesses Honored as Veteran Employer Champions

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Gary Micheau, SCSI and Escanaba & Lake Superior Railroad; Patty Jacobsen, Verso Corporation; Bob Jacquart, Jacquart Fabric Products; Brad Fix,  Anchor Coupling

Several local companies were recognized on Veterans Day at the Upper Peninsula Talent Summit for their commitment to hiring veterans.  SCSI and Escanaba & Lake Superior Railroad, Verso Corporation, Jacquart Fabric Products, Anchor Coupling, Grede Foundry, and SCI Cleaning and Maintenance received the Veteran Employer Champions award from the UPward Talent Council Michigan Works! during a special presentation.

Hiring a veteran is one of the best investments a business can make.  Veterans have the skills that Upper Peninsula employers need including leadership, intelligence, and dedication. They also have demonstrated their abilities to perform under challenging conditions.  Veterans come to the workforce highly adept with new technology, and are skilled and trained in a variety of areas.

These businesses and many more have observed the value in employing skilled veterans and will continue to prioritize veteran hires. The UPward Talent Council Michigan Works! supports all employers with finding skilled veteran talent.

Business Education Partnership Award

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Mark Massicotte from L’anse Manufacturing received the Business Education Partnership Award at the 2016 Upper Peninsula Talent Summit.  Without the engagement of local businesses the U.P. would not be able to connect the future workforce with good local careers and help them make informed choices in their post-secondary education.

L’anse Manufacturing owner Mark Massicotte and his staff have been instrumental in connecting local youth to careers in manufacturing.  During the 2014-2015 school year, he approached Baraga and L’anse school districts in the hopes of opening a Machine Tool program that would be open to students from both districts.

Through numerous meetings and consultation with the Copper Country ISD, a plan was put in place to offer an Industrial Arts Machine Tool program that followed CTE standards.  Mark and his staff worked with the instructor to determine what could be taught through Industrial Arts and what could be taught at the local manufacturer.  Because all standards could not be taught through the Industrial Arts portion of the class, Mark then organized a local group of manufacturers who agreed to take second-year students into their facilities under CTE’s Less than Class Size program to teach the remaining standards.  L’anse Mfg is one those manufacturers.

To encourage students to consider a career in manufacturing, Mark and his staff opened their doors for student and counselor field trips.  During the first year of this project, Mark and his team provided startup and technical assistance to the instructor.   They also provided students with work-based learning opportunities to experience a machine shop in full operation.

Mark’s tireless efforts to promote manufacturing and to provide opportunities for students to see and experience various fields of study are a credit to himself, his staff, and his profession.

Career Pathmaker Award

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Westwood High School’s John Jesses recognized with the Career Pathmaker Award at the 2016 Upper Peninsula Talent Summit. Each year a stakeholder that has made a difference in connecting young people to career exploration, preparation, guidance or placement receives this award.

John Jessen has been a teacher at Westwood High School for the past 11 years.  During that time he has been instrumental in the development and resurgence of their Industrial Technology wing.  John has developed several classes new to their IT curriculum as well as brought new life to classes through articulating with local colleges in order to provide the opportunity for students to earn college credit.  Several years ago John became certified as a Career and Technological Education teacher in the areas of Welding and Construction Trades allowing Westwood to generate state funding for his classes.  His CTE block classes have seen students construct several structures on the Westwood campus and surrounding towns.  The largest project being a two-story 44‘x60’ industrial building in Ishpeming.  John has had many of his students turn the training they received in his classes into jobs and apprenticeships directly upon leaving high school.  He has continually broadening his knowledge base having established relationships with local auto shops, welding shops, and local builders.  John is creative and innovative in his approach and has served on many district curriculum committees, school improvement committees, and on the Marquette-Alger RESA CTE committee.  He sets high standards for himself and his students and works hard to see that they are met.  John Jessen is a master teacher and an integral part of the Westwood High School staff. 

Marquette Senior High School Health Occupation Students Participate in Mock Interviews at Michigan Works!


Marquette Senior High School’s Health Occupations class is a Career and Technical Education class that offers high school seniors an opportunity to prepare for a career in health care. It includes an extended work-based learning experience, along with an opportunity to become CPR certified and earn college credit. The curriculum includes safety, medical terminology, medical math, and anatomy, physiology, and employability skills,. On November 2th, 54 students from Ronda Manninen’s Health Occupations class at Marquette Senior High School came to Michigan Works! to participate in mock interviews. 


While at Michigan Works! students learned additional interview tips, toured  the facility to learn how they can utilize services available at Michigan Works!, were shown how to effectively use to perform a job search, and participated in mock interviews.


Students arrived dressed for success with resume  in hand. Local business professionals Marsha Lucas and Paula Genovese of NMU, Pam Engle of UP Health System, Brian Sarvello and Rayme Martineau of MARESA, Renee Koski of UPHEC, Steve Gillotte of State of Michigan Veterans Services, Alex Kofsky of Accelerate UP, and Delaney Lovett and Eli Kovar of Michigan Works! assisted as interviewers, shared tips and provided feedback to students. Sarah Johnson, Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates Specialist with Michigan Works! facilitated the event and was impressed with what she saw.  “Each student impressed me. They were polite, professional and well-spoken; but, best of all, they were themselves.  The resumes that I saw were incredible. I loved that they understood the value of a strong, clean resume!” Anna Cole, Health Occupations student added, “The mock interviews were an awesome experience because as high school students we have had limited opportunities to practice interviewing. I feel so much better prepared for future interviews after this experience and it was really great to learn tips and tricks from the experts!” 

Photo L-R = MSHS Health Occ Students, Hannah Detmers, Charlotte Hodgins, Karsyn Cook, Kailey Berandt, and Brooke Johnson dressed for success during Michigan Works! mock interviews

✦Talent Tour✦ Moyle Construction at UP Health System – Portage


Michigan Works! and the Copper Country Intermediate School District (ISD) explored Career Technical Education during a Talent Tour of the UP Health System – Portage’s new medical office building construction site in Calumet. 

Moyle Construction hosted the Building Trades students from Baraga and Chassell school district on Friday October 21st.  The Copper Country ISD students took a tour of an active construction site and were able to meet with several building trades contractors to learn about the skills and training it takes to work in the construction industry.  Students interacted with jobsite professionals asking questions to see how their education will transfer the future job market. 

Huge thanks to Moyle Construction and their subcontractors for opening this facility to students and taking the time to interact with future workers.


Darlene Smith and Susan Williamson accepting at the Michigan Works! Association Annual Conference


Pinecrest Medical Care Facility works hand in hand with Michigan Works! to grow their business and serve the community. 

Pinecrest’s leadership is active on the Talent District Career Council, an Upper Peninsula (UP)-wide educational advisory group, prior to that serving as co-chair of the UP Educational Advisory Group. 

Pinecrest acquires talent using Michigan Works!. All jobs are posted through the Michigan Works! Business Service’s team, who locates the talent through interactions in Michigan Works! Service Centers.

This organization is also active on the Upper Peninsula Healthcare Round Table. The Roundtable has been in operation since 2002 and has seen enormous success in the reduction of job vacancies, especially in the area of nursing. 

Its overall mission is to create a workforce to meet the Upper Peninsula health care industry needs by attracting and retaining a high-quality workforce. 

The roundtable also launches strategies aimed at improving the collective competitive viability of the full healthcare system across the U.P.

Pinecrest supports talent development activities by hosting talent tours, allowing students to tour their facilities and learn about future job opportunities in the healthcare industry.

They have also piloted an innovative new U.P. project that will live-stream talent tours to students across the Upper Peninsula.


Michigan Works! Association Annual Conference Challenge of Excellence Awards – Winners

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Michigan State Senator Tom Casperson with retiring Michigan Works! Board Chair Will Carne

Casperson was recognized as the LEGISLATOR OF THE YEAR at the Michigan Works! Association Annual Conference on October 3, 2016 in Mt. Pleasant. The award recognizes a state legislator who is steadfast in their support of Michigan Works! and/or a Michigan Works! Agency (i.e., support of program funding, sponsored new legislation, etc).

Carne was introduced into the CHAMPIONS OF WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT at the event as well. Carne has been associated with the workforce development system for over 44 years and been a crucial strategic leader of worker pipeline creation and talent development in the Upper Peninsula.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility in Powers, MI was also recognized at the state-wide event as the EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR. The award highlights a private sector employer that, in partnership with a Michigan Works! Agency, goes beyond the call of duty, continuously contributes to local job-placement / promotes education to maintain a skilled workforce. Emphasis may be on hiring individuals with disabilities or any other significant barrier(s) to employment.

Learn more about these awards and other award winners here:

Lego Robotics Camp Returns


Michigan Works!…is UPward and Bay College Training and Development (M-TEC) teamed up recently to offer Lego robotics camp to teach local students valuable problem solving methods, engineering concepts, and programming skills in a fun and engaging way.

Due to unprecedented demand, all sessions filled up quickly.  The increased focus over the past several years by many local organizations on raising awareness of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers appears to be paying off.  The strong showing of camp participation has already led to expanded offerings of the camp in the future, as well as preparations for other new challenging and educational offerings for Upper Peninsula students in the years to come.  There are many successful partners across the U.P. raising awareness about great local careers, as well as offering students opportunities to begin a rewarding career path leading to great jobs. Many of these efforts will be highlighted later this year at the U.P. Talent Summit hosted in Marquette.

The Lego Robotics system was designed to be simple and easy for children to use. Structural pieces snap together and come apart without tools, allowing for quick build times and easy modifications. A variety of gears, wheels and other accessories allows for complete customization of robots. The “Robot Brain” takes powerful technology and simplifies it for educational use. It is programmed via a tablet computer by students during the camp.

The EV3 Lego Mindstorms robotics kit were used for the beginner and advanced series. The beginner series is designed for youth who have had no prior experience with robotics. Students worked in teams to build basic knowledge of robotics and STEM in a fun learning environment.

The advanced series is designed for youth who have had some prior experience with robotics. Students worked in teams to gain a hands-on experience using the robotics kits creatively and independently.  This STEM based curriculum provides an exciting opportunity to build upon previous knowledge of robotics and deepen knowledge of STEM careers.

This year the camps were led by Kimberly Grigg, from Michigan Works!, and her team of instructors. Kim is a Michigan Tech graduate and the current Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates Specialist at Escanaba High School, where she teaches a course on career development and financial literacy. Local high school students were offered a summer work experience by Michigan Works! and served as camp instructors to assist camp goers.  Student instructors played an important role and learned many critical workplace skills during the camp. To find out more about the Lego Robotics Camp and similar future projects, call Robert Micheau at (906) 789-0558.