While educational attainment in the region is fairly high compared to the state average (41 percent of regional residents have an associate’s degree or higher vs. 35 percent statewide), companies in the region continue to face challenges in meeting workforce needs. While the talent gap challenge is significant, so is the opportunity to support the future pipeline of workers to meet growing industry needs.

Growing and attracting talent to meet industry needs is one of the priority action areas in Greater Ann Arbor Region’s five-year prosperity strategy. Through the Greater Ann Arbor Region’s Prosperity Initiative grant, multiple technical and challenge grants have been awarded to develop talent, including support of efforts to increase regional use of MI Bright Future, a tool that fosters engagement between the region’s students, educators, and employers.

MI Bright Future is a partnership of K–12, workforce development organizations, postsecondary partners, and chambers of commerce working to integrate career planning technology tools with the existing education processes. The tools provided by MI Bright Future make it easier for students and educators to learn about and connect with local employers and community mentors. Essentially, MI Bright Future helps bridge the gap between student aspirations and workforce demands by helping students understand regional employers’ expectations in order to prepare them to meet market requirements.

The Greater Ann Arbor Region recently funded the Livingston Career and College Access Network as well as the Workforce Intelligence Network to expand the use of MI Bright Future across the region. As a part of this effort, up to 200 employers in the region will be recruited for inclusion in the system and several local schools will be licensed and trained to use the tool.

More information on MI Bright Future can be found at mibrightfuture.org.