Michigan Announces Launch of Campaign to Promote Careers in Electric Vehicle and Mobility Sector

A press release from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) released March 1, 2023.

Michigan announces launch of nation’s largest campaign to promote new careers in state’s surging electric vehicle and mobility sector.

Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s new Talent Action Team will pilot an unprecedented recruitment effort in a public-private partnership with 15 major Michigan employers, public universities and colleges.

Kickoff includes the debut of The Michigander EV Scholars program, featuring up to $10,000 in scholarships to as many as 350 top tech students at participating universities who sign a letter of employment with an approved company and commit to staying for 12 months in the Great Lakes State.

LANSING, Mich. Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II announced today that the Great Lakes State is kicking off the nation’s largest-ever campaign to promote careers and recruit talent to fill jobs in Michigan’s surging electric vehicle (EV) and transportation mobility sector.

“For generations, Michiganders have stepped up to get the job done by embodying the kind of grit, determination and work ethic needed to keep the world moving forward,” Gilchrist said during a virtual press conference this morning.

“As we work to make an electrified future a reality, it’s no surprise that once again, Michigan is being recognized as a leader in shepherding this new evolution,” Gilchrist said. “We’re ready to build on our proud legacy and automotive heritage here in Michigan to usher in a greener, more sustainable and electrified future in 2023 and beyond. The Michigander EV Scholars program and our historic talent attraction campaign will help get us there and ensure our state continues to keep our foot on the accelator driving the future of mobility and electrification.”

Lt. Gov. Gilchrist II was joined during the virtual press conference by Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) Executive Vice President and Chief Talent Solutions & Engagement Officer Kerry Ebersole Singh, University of Michigan Associate Dean for Research for the College of Engineering Eric Michielssen, Michigan State University College of Engineering Dean Leo Kempel, Michigan Technological University President Richard J. Koubek, General Motors Executive Director Tamberlin Golden and LG Energy Solution (LGES) Michigan Inc. Director Denise Gray.

Michigan is already leading the charge to position the U.S. as a global EV/mobility competitor through increased manufacturing capacity, research and development and the state’s ranking as first in the nation for mobility-related patents. Last year, the state attracted over $14 billion in electric vehicle and battery investments while developing programs to train and employ the next generation of talent in the EV/mobility sector. 

At the same time, Michigan has more than 3,000 jobs available this year in the EV and mobility sector for emerging and skilled workers that employers say are critical to fill now for current and future success. The automotive industry is undergoing a once-in-a-lifetime transformation with the shift to e-mobility. This shift has large implications for the state’s future with an opportunity to create up to 300,000 new, good-paying jobs for Michiganders by 2030. The average salary for many of these fields is $75,000-plus.

The EV and mobility campaign is one phase of an overall $34 million talent attraction and retention strategy the MEDC is introducing in 2023 to help in-state businesses struggling to fill key in-demand and high-growth jobs with the goal of growing the workforce population long term. The campaign will start with a heavy focus on in-state retention and recruitment. It also will target some key out-of-state markets before transitioning to a national campaign. The $34 million comes from $115.6 million that was allocated to the MEDC in a bipartisan vote last year by the Michigan Legislature for business attraction, community revitalization and entrepreneurship programs.

As part of this effort, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has tasked the MEDC’s Talent Action Team, led by the MEDC’s Singh, with spearheading a new, one-year pilot program. The public-private partnership is aimed at recruiting EV and mobility talent in 2023 with 15 major Michigan employers, higher education partners including  the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, Ferris State University, Macomb Community College and Schoolcraft College,  and Michigan Works! agencies across the state.

“Starting today, we’re asking Michiganders and all non-Michigander job-seekers to let MEDC’s Talent Action Team help match you with Michigan EV and mobility careers and training,” Singh said. “Our goal is to help fill EV-related jobs and also train thousands of workers in the first year by delivering professional development programs where people improve their skills and competencies that align with in-demand roles.”

The 15 Michigan employers engaging with the state, Michigan Works! and partner universities include some of the world’s most successful and innovative companies that are shaping the future of America’s roadways — one electric vehicle at a time:

  • BorgWarner 
  • Bosch 
  • Dana Inc.
  • Denso
  • Ford
  • Gentex Corp.
  • General Motors
  • LG Energy Solution
  • Magna
  • Mahle
  • Nexteer
  • Our Next Energy
  • Shape Corp.
  • Toyota
  • ZF

The transition to EV represents enormous opportunities for the auto industry and the state of Michigan. Workers on production floors and in design facilities will require new technical skills, with opportunities to work for employers in all corners of the state.

“We’re excited to work with MEDC on this campaign because GM is rebuilding its auto industry workforce for a future that is electric, software-enabled and autonomous,” Golden said.

“As our products change and operations evolve, a future-ready workforce is necessary,” added Golden. “Through training and development, GM is providing employees opportunities to stay competitive in gratifying careers today and tomorrow. We are striving to create opportunities for our employees to grow with us in the years ahead. It’s a journey, and we’re aiming to have future employees join us with the help of the MEDC’s Talent Action Team.”

The plan is to spur Michigan’s EV and mobility talent attraction push with up to $10,000 scholarships to as many as 350 top tech students at the three participating universities—University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Michigan Technological University—if they sign a letter of employment with one of the approved companies and commit to staying on the job for 12 months in the Great Lakes State. These new hires would help fill the participating Michigan employers’ annual demand for 500-600 electrical engineers and software developers.

Nine of the 15 companies collaborating with Michigan’s Talent Action Team have volunteered to network with and consider offers for students in The Michigander EV Scholars program. Those companies include: Bosch, DENSO, Ford, General Motors, LG Energy Solution, Mahle, Our Next Energy, Shape Corporation, and ZF. The rest of the companies are focused on promoting opportunities with their firms to non-student prospective job seekers who are currently working or interested in EV-related careers in Michigan and beyond.

LG Energy Solution, for example, announced last March that it is investing $1.7 billion and creating 1,200 jobs at its current Holland location in West Michigan. LGES’ expansion will quintuple the plant’s capacity to help produce battery components into the future as Michigan’s electric vehicle industry grows.

“LGES is at the forefront of green business, promoting sustainability, electrification and innovation,” Gray said. “Joining with the MEDC’s Talent Action Team was a natural choice to our commitment of building an impactful global business because of Michigan’s rich pool of talent and being close to the geographic epicenter of the automotive industry.”

The Michigander EV Scholars campaign is intended to build a network of  university students interested in an EV/mobility career. The up to $10,000 scholarship will be provided to the university, which will credit it toward the student’s tuition. If the student’s tuition is already paid, the university will issue a check to the student.

“In the State of Michigan, we face high stakes and tremendous opportunity in the EV transition,” said U-M’s Michielssen. “In order to maintain our longstanding leadership in automotive, the kind of deep collaboration that the EV/Mobility Scholars program represents is critical. We’re thrilled to partner with MEDC, industry and other universities on this effort. Workforce development is a key pillar of the Michigan Electric Vehicle Center at U-M, which the state is supporting with a $130 million investment.”

The MEDC’s Talent Action Team will monitor the volume of submissions to The Michigander EV Scholars program to ensure the scholarship pool payments don’t exceed available funding. The scholarships will be distributed over the course of the Spring, Summer and Fall semesters as participating students receive offers aligned with the employers’ timelines for extending offers and onboarding new staff. In addition, the TAT will provide networking opportunities directly with industry leaders via TAT’s relevant employers.

The process for applying for Michigan’s EV and mobility incentivization bonus will vary by campus (applicants should check with the respective school Program Administrator), but, across the state, the expectation for the 2023-2024 cohort is that students:

  • Be interested in a career as an electrical engineer or software developer.
  • Have a declared, or intent to declare, relevant major (e.g. engineering, computer science).
  • Be excited to learn more about the EV/mobility sectors.
  • Commit to participating in available career events with employers, or as stipulated by their school’s Program Administrator.
  • For eligibility for Spring 2023 and Fall 2023 Scholarships, receive and accept a job offer between March 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023, as an electrical engineer or software developer with a participating employer in Michigan.

The EV signing bonus awards funds to students (on a first-come first-serve basis) accepting internships or jobs with participating employers, specifically:

  • $5,000 will be awarded to juniors who accept an internship with a partner employer in Michigan and commit to completing the full internship.
  • $10,000 will be awarded to seniors who accept a full-time position with an EV-partner employer in Michigan and commit to remaining in the role for one year.
  • For seniors who received a previous award as a junior, an additional $5,000 will be awarded if they accept a full-time position with an EV-partner employer in Michigan and commit to staying in the state for one year.

“The United States is at the cusp of another automotive revolution and this time the State of Michigan and Michigan State University will be at its epicenter,” Kempel said. “MSU is proud to be a place where we are preparing the world’s next generation of thinkers and doers — leaders who will help our state maintain and further its mobility prowess.”

Students can apply for Michigan’s EV/mobility recruitment incentive by completing an online questionnaire at http://www.michiganevjobs.org. Eligible students’ applications will go to the associated participating university for review and follow-up. Students who are not affiliated with one of the participating universities will receive an email that their information will be passed along to their desired university stating their interest in an EV or mobility career and including resources for applying to and learning about available career opportunities in their area.  

U-M, MSU and Michigan Tech are starting to recruit students to The Michigander EV Scholars program with multiple education awareness efforts tailored to each university’s respective student bodies, including on-campus events during 2023.

The MEDC’s new talent campaign will help support President Joe Biden’s goal for electric vehicles to make up half of all new vehicle sales by 2030. Sales of electric vehicles have skyrocketed in the past two years and are expected to continue rising under the $1 trillion infrastructure law signed last year and the climate-and-health law adopted in August.

In addition to its partnership with MEDC on The Michigander EV Scholars program, Michigan Technological University is getting $8.14 million from the federal government to develop and advance critical technologies and processes needed to recycle and reuse electric vehicle batteries.

“This robust federal investment and teaming with MEDC’s Talent Action Team will support Michigan Tech’s researchers, faculty, and students’ continued efforts to develop and deploy the next generation of technologies to recycle electric vehicle batteries that will guide the future of the auto industry in Michigan and nationwide,” Koubeck said.

Singh and the MEDC’s Talent Action Team are making strategic investments totaling a combined $2.35 million into Ferris State University, Schoolcraft Community College and Macomb Community College as well as The Michigander EV Scholars partners U-M, MSU, and Michigan Tech. The strategic investments into these schools are inclusive of the budget for The Michigander EV Scholars program and will increase their capacity to train students in EV/Mobility occupational needs. Plans also include expanding Michigan’s Talent Action Team moving forward to include a focus on talent development and attraction for the semiconductor industry.

To further support the industry’s employers, the Talent Action Team is partnering during this first-year pilot phase with the Michigan Works! system, beginning with West Michigan Works! in 2023 and expanding to other regions in 2024. MEDC data show a majority of production workers and frontline supervisors in the EV/mobility sector are needed in the West Michigan and Capital-area regions. The TAT will help these MWAs enhance their talent pipelines and recruitment services for production and supervisor roles by helping to expand the agencies’ abilities to support more residents in career navigation and application readiness.

During the selection process, the Talent Action Team will match prospective students and interested non-student job seekers looking for new careers in EV/mobility with the best resources for their respective career goals. This includes applying directly for a job opportunity at one of the 15 employer partners, a short-term training program to get the certifications and skills needed for employment, enrolling in EV/mobility-related courses at a local college or university and connecting with current employees and leaders in the field.  

The top positions TAT core employers in the automotive sector need support with recruiting include software developers, electrical engineers, production workers and front-line supervisors. While Michigan has had success in increasing the number of graduates in these fields, the state’s goal is to rapidly accelerate skilling in computer science and engineering to meet growing industry demand.

Through its due diligence, the MEDC’s Talent Action Team has identified the leading states in EV manufacturing, and found Michigan, Georgia and Kentucky were leaders, followed by Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee. However, research also shows:

  • Ohio’s AccelerateOhio campaign is not specific to EV but all mobility, and is focused on business attraction rather than talent. FindYourOhio is a broader campaign focused on job functions/skills.
  • Georgia has recognized that “efforts to develop and recruit talent are critical” for EV manufacturing but they do not appear to have a specific talent attraction campaign in process. 
  • Kentucky allocates $10 million per year for its talent attraction media campaign, although unlike Michigan the Blue Grass State’s campaign isn’t directed solely at EV/Mobility jobs. 
  • The remaining states don’t appear to have talent campaigns specific to EV/Mobility manufacturing either.

“With our legacy of automotive innovation and forward-thinking approach toward investment attraction and talent development, Michigan is on track to be in the driver’s seat on the road to 2030 and beyond,” Singh said.

More information about Michigan’s global leadership in transportation mobility and electrification is available at www.michiganbusiness.org/mobility/