Debb Brunell

From the CEO's Desk

Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! (UPMW) is pleased to share our second annual Upper Peninsula (U.P.) State of the Workforce Report. This report summarizes our 2023 work, 2024 priorities, and observations and analysis of U.P.-workforce issues.

I am beyond proud of what we have accomplished in the U.P. during 2023. Our team is more than 70 people strong, working for you—our businesses, communities, and people. Since the pandemic, we have learned to be more agile in our approach.

In this edition, you will find a snapshot of the U.P.-labor force. We are determined to be informed by facts and driven by business demand. See page 12 for a breakdown of how we are engaging youth to keep them living and working here. Our businesses need partners who will assist them to retain and upskill their employees in nontraditional ways. See how we are leveraging the funds we obtain to help fill the talent gaps in this ever-increasing technical world.

We are spearheading successful apprenticeship models in nontraditional occupations because they work! This includes youth apprenticeships; when they connect early to a business that invests in them and shows them that they are valued, they are more likely to stay and grow with that business. See how we are building promising career pathways for youth and adults through apprenticeship opportunities.

It is no secret that labor has the upper hand right now pushing for increased work/life balance, quality benefits, higher pay, and purpose in their work. Many businesses struggle with the increased demands, especially those with entry-level jobs and wages. We must look beyond the current job and show a viable and valuable path to a sustainable wage career. A fulfilling career progression can start anywhere! How do we help people discover them?

First, we must investigate and pioneer innovative ways to be proactive in attracting talent. How can we truly develop a talent pipeline that will fill the needs of our diverse U.P. business community? U.P. youth need consistent local connections with lucrative opportunities that enable them to achieve sustainable employment close to home.

UPMW is about connecting people to careers, augmenting their success, and working with businesses to ensure their workforce needs are met. This requires robust relationships and understanding, which leads us to the very core of strength in the U.P.: our partnerships! Leveraging these collaborations for the benefit of both businesses and employees will accelerate growth and increase the resiliency of our economy. There is a lot to be thankful for in the U.P. and our partnerships are certainly one of the most valuable.

Please let us know how Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! can help YOU."

Debb Burnell signature