Youth Engagement

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.

Engagement Strategy

As noted in our data, 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.

Youth Workforce Opportunities

  • Career Technical Education (CTE)
  • Early/Middle Colleges
  • Dual Enrollment Options
  • Youth Apprenticeships

Middle School (Grades 6-8)

In the transition from elementary to middle school, students go from being only aware of broad career fields to diving deeper into career exploration and investigating specific careers that align with their interests. Previously, our youth engagement has existed primarily for ages 14–24; however, to better accommodate long-term needs, career exploration and preparation has led us to start youth engagement earlier—now at the middle school level shortages and to catalyze economic growth.

Jobs for Michigan's Graduates (JMG)

JMG is our premier program for training and retaining a competent and ready-to-work youth and young adult talent pipeline for “good jobs” in the U.P. JMG participants receive at least 40 hours of industry- advised, competency-based career preparation followed by 12 months of follow-up guidance and barrier removal for participants to realize their career and life goals

Other Workshops

UPMW connects with schools and students to offer limited series workshops to enhance skills such as:

• Preparation and presence in the workplace.
• Career exploration/job searching and goal setting.
• Application, resume/cover letter development.

Talent Tours and Job Shadowing

These young adult experiences take place at businesses, which host individuals or groups, and give students a behind-the-scenes look at local career opportunities and initial exposure to potential work sites.

Work-Based Learning (WBL) Experiences

A high-quality WBL is usually a paid work experience at a business, which is often augmented by financial literacy, workplace skills, and academic training. In 2023, UPMW paid more than $130,000 in WBL wages and incentives to 67 participants placed at 34 host businesses.

Breaking Tradition and Moving Forward

When UPMW met Julie, she was credit deficient at Horizon’s Alternative School, but after some determination, Julie became the first person in her immediate family to obtain a high school diploma.


With help from her JMG specialist, she identified Bay College’s Accelerated Dental Assistant program as the next stop in her career. UPMW provided supportive services to purchase a laptop, transportation, and lodging as needed to help her attend.


Upon completing the program, she was immediately hired by Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center as a Dental
Assistant, making $15.77/hr.

a nurse working with a patient

Youth Apprenticeship

See Our Apprenticeship Section for More on Youth Apprenticeships. 

Post Secondary

UPMW offers supplemental support and a labor demand-driven perspective on the transition f rom training/education to workforce engagement. We also assist individuals to plan for their training completion and entry into their new career ahead of time.

Out-of-School Engagement

Plans developed during school do not always come to fruition as anticipated for young adults. Without the guidance they had access to in school, they often do not know who to turn to for career advice. UPMW provides services to both in- and out-of-school youth.

Big Wins in Luce County

UPMW hosted a Hometown Career Fair in Luce County for 250 7 –12 grade
students. At the event, students were introduced to local businesses and
were able to interact with them to bring awareness to the career opportunities
that exist in their area.

youth engagement in Luce

Making Moves Toward a Future Career

Annika was planning to attend NMU’s Cosmetology program with the goal of one day owning her own salon.
UPMW implemented a work-based learning at U.P. Hair Company to get her experience in a salon, where she observed operations, provided administrative support, and trained one- on-one with the owner. She completed her work-based learning on August 25 , 2023 and expressed that she is even more excited to attend Cosmetology School!

Annika was planning to attend NMU’s Cosmetology program with the goal of one day owning her own salon. UPMW implemented a work-based learning at U.P. Hair Company to get her experience in a salon,
OneUP Collaborative
Mind Trekkers
OneUP Collaborative
Mind Trekkers

OneUP Mind Trekkers Tour

UPMW, Michigan Technological University (MTU), the MiSTEM Network, and other Career and Educational Advisory Council (CEAC) member organizations collaborated to host the inaugural OneUP Mind Trekkers Tour festivals in the 2022– 2023 school year, which served about 2,000 middle school students representing 47 U.P. school districts.

The OneUP Tour has continued in the 2023–2024 school year with two events hosting more than 1,400 students at MTU and Bay College.

Jim at Mind Trekkers