2023 U.P. State of the Workforce Report

Learn about the development of the Upper Peninsula workforce, what we accomplished in the past year, and our direction for 2024!

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 the 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.

Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! is a driving force in the competitive world of workforce development and economic prosperity and serves all 15 counties of Michigan’s U.P.

We connect employers, job seekers, training institutions, partners, and the community to maximize  state and federal workforce resources. We support businesses to recruit, upskill and retain top talent, and coach individuals to be better employees. 

Through workforce development, we help people and businesses Get Ready to WIN!

Regardless of our great work, there are still people in the U.P. that are experiencing barriers
to living and employment in our rural area. Some residents even move away to find more opportunity. We continually assess the changes to the region and focus our efforts accordingly to ensure that individuals find sustainable work that they love with employers that need their skills. This effort shines through in our programs and initiatives, such as OneUP Mind Trekkers, apprenticeships, the Early ChildhoodEducation Task Force, and more.

At UPMW, our business services and talent services teams work together to connect job seekers and employers and create a stronger U.P. workforce. During the 2023 program year, we saw increases in American Job Center visits, work-based learning opportunities, on-the-job training, and program enrollments.

One example of this was when our teams worked together to connect job seekers and employers. Through a career exploration event for high school students
in Munising, Michigan, we made 13 local summer job placements.

As U.P. employment opportunities evolve, UPMW must bridge the gap of education and employment and act as the support needed to synergize educators and employers.

As noted in our numbers section, The U.P. population has seen a noticeable contraction in the 25–55 age range. This decrease affects the number of people who are able and willing to join the workforce. This group of people must increase to supply enough workers to alleviate employment shortages and to catalyze
economic growth

As UPMW continues to grow a skilled workforce in the U.P., we seek innovative solutions to provide better paths to workforce entry. Our apprenticeship initiatives have continued to grow, helping more businesses create registered apprenticeships. UPMW acts as an intermediary sponsor, placing job seekers into apprenticeships successfully

The U.P. may mean something different to each of us, but we all share one thing in common: we call it home, although many have experienced economic uncertainty over the past couple of years and are still trying to adjust. We can adjust and conform to the status quo or employ the OneUP collaborative to overcome our challenges.


The OneUP collaborative was founded in 2022 and consists of three industry collectives: manufacturing, healthcare, and hospitality & tourism. Collectives contain industry-specific members of the U.P. business community, which ensures support f rom the experts. To support the industry efforts, there is also an education and training collective that serves as a resource.

As we work to combat the challenges we face in the U.P., we have created special initiatives projects to take action towards a better future like the Early Childhood Education Task Force, the Michigan Learning and Educational Advancement Program, Michigan Rural Enhanced Access to Careers in Healthcare, and other special grant projects. 

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