GRAND HAVEN — With two daughters in their early teens, Nancy Manglos decided she wanted to work less.
So after 21 years she left a company to take a job with the local schools that offered her a part-time schedule and the flexibility to spend more time with her family — a move that started her toward a new line of work in workforce development.
“My husband and I decided that’s where I wanted to be. I wanted to have more time in their lives and school and the PTA and those fun things,” Manglos said of her decision four years ago to change jobs.
She recently returned to work full-time, helping companies upgrade workers’ job skills.
Manglos started in early July as director of the Association of Commerce and Industry’s Training Connections. She works with area employers on workforce development issues such as coordinating worker training and securing training grants from the state on behalf of employers.
The position provides the 46-year-old Manglos an opportunity to further use her background in manufacturing and education.
Manglos joined the ACI after working for five years with the Grand Haven Area Public Schools, where she ran the Community Education department’s business and industry program that provided job training for area employers. She originally started with the schools as a Microsoft software instructor and was managing the program when it ended.
When the school district was forced to disband its Community Education arm, Manglos found an opening at the ACI, which wants to become more involved in workforce development and was seeking to fill its vacant training position. She joined the ACI on July 9.
“It proved to be exactly what the ACI and I were looking for,” Manglos said.
Prior to working for the Grand Haven Area Public Schools, Manglos spent 21 years at the former Michigan Plastics Corp., which GHSP Inc. acquired about 18 months ago. She started out in customer service and inside sales before transferring in 1985 to the company’s accounting operations.
Manglos was initially working part-time on the accounting staff, but by 1997 she was putting in as much as 35 hours or more a week. The job had begun to conflict with the time she wanted to devote to her family, she said.
A Grand Haven native who graduated in 1973 from Grand Haven High School, Manglos decided to leave the company for part-time work that offered plenty of flexibility. She hooked up with the school district in 1997.
The position with Grand Haven Community Education’s business and industry program also allowed Manglos to become involved in education, an area in which she had a growing interest. Manglos had taught preschool for two years while working at Michigan Plastics and earned an associate’s degree from Muskegon Community College in 1990 in early childhood development.
At the ACI, she’ll work to help employers larger and small, from the manufacturing to the retail and service sectors, identify what’s available locally for worker training and then coordinate courses and try to secure state and federal job-training grants. Quite often businesses know exactly what they need in upgrading their workers’ skills, but they aren’t sure how to find it, Manglos said.
Manglos sees her role as helping companies overcome that hurdle. “Everyone knows what they want, they just don’t know how to get it,” she said.
Those efforts will include bringing together several companies to pool their resources for a single training seminar on the same topic, she said.
“How does the guy on one end of the street know that the guy on the other end needs the same training? We’re going to bring them together,” she said.
For the future, Manglos is working with area schools — Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Fruitport — to organize a business-education program for middle school and high school students. Manglos sees that kind of career preparation as increasingly important for students, no matter what direction they head after their high school graduate.
“It doesn’t matter if they are college-bound or not, they still have to work,” she said.
As far as additional initiatives for Training Connections, “we’re going to evolve as we go along.”