Michigan Works! leverages new tool to help job seekers

Pure Michigan Talent Connect Career Explorer launched to help local workforce make better career decisions.
Team member Patrick Lothamer stands ready to greet guests at a Michigan Works! Southwest American Job Center. Job seekers can now work with a Michigan Works! career coach using the Pure Michigan Talent Connect Career Explorer tool to develop and implement customized career plans. Courtesy Southwest Michigan Works!

Local Michigan Works! agencies are taking appointments to help job seekers develop customized career plans using a new tool from Pure Michigan Talent Connect.

Job seekers and students now have access to a new career exploration resource, Pure Michigan Talent Connect’s Career Explorer at mitalent.org/career-exploration. Individuals can access the tool on their own or career coaches at the workforce development agency’s branches, including Michigan Works! Southwest and West Michigan Works!, can guide people through the career exploration feature by virtual or in-person appointment.

The Career Explorer resource through Pure Michigan Talent Connect is designed to help people access better jobs, education and training opportunities. The tool provides recommendations tailored to individuals’ needs, aimed at setting them up for success in the labor market.

“Training and education help people obtain better jobs,” said Ben Damerow, director of Michigan Works! Southwest. “Pure Michigan Talent Connect’s Career Explorer customizes this journey for our clients, so we can help them reach their professional goals more quickly.”

Damerow said data shows a correlation between postsecondary education and earnings increases.

“People don’t have to think of careers as fixed,” he said. “(They) can always grow within a field, adding certifications and degrees, allowing them to advance their careers. And the data supports that the more education you gain, the more opportunity you have to grow your income.”

According to Michigan’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, Southwest Michigan jobs that fall into the category of high-wage, high-demand occupations requiring a bachelor’s degree are expected to grow at the fastest rate over the next five years compared to other job opportunities. These same high-wage, high-demand, high-education jobs — for instance, social workers, health care professionals, financial managers and engineers — display higher pay scales than other occupations with wages ranging from $42,000 per year to six figures.

Pure Michigan Talent Connect’s Career Explorer leverages data-driven information to help job seekers make better career decisions in a changing economy, particularly those looking to upgrade their skills or find a new career.

The new tool is a part of the Data for the American Dream (D4AD) project, a national initiative that strives to create an intelligent workforce system to help job seekers make better career decisions in a changing economy through the use of data-driven information.

“Our goal is to take the guesswork out of how people can prepare for their next — or first — career,” Damerow said. “Our role in rolling out new resources such as these customized career plans is to make preparation even easier, helping people find unique opportunities personalized for each person’s success.”

West Michigan Works! — which serves employers and job seekers in Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon and Ottawa counties — said it also uses the Pure Michigan Talent Connect Career Explorer tool, along with several other resources, to assist job seekers.

“West Michigan Works! is open to assist people with their career choices. Along with the Pure Michigan Talent Connect Career Explorer tool, our expert career coaching services use a variety of resources to assist people with their next career step,” said Brittany Lenertz, director of talent solutions, West Michigan Works!.

Those in southwest or West Michigan looking for support in accessing Pure Michigan Talent Connect’s Career Explorer or in connecting their customized career plans to additional Michigan Works! resources and programs, can visit michiganworkssouthwest.org or westmiworks.org.

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