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Plasan, which specializes in customized, lightweight products, opened a new Customer Development Center in Michigan and is attracting new engineering talent.

Detroit Wants to Change Image of Auto Industry to Attract Talent

Aug. 6, 2015
“Michigan today rivals Silicon Valley as a global innovation center and we need to encourage our students to pursue exciting, well-paying careers in the tech-driven auto industry,” said Gov. Rick Snyder.

The state of Michigan wants to make sure that talented workers view their state through the same lens that they view Silicon Valley.

“Our success in attracting new automotive investment in recent years means we must now expand our state’s talent base and prepare our students for jobs in one of the world’s major technology hubs,” Gov. Rick Snyder said.

“Michigan today rivals Silicon Valley as a global innovation center and we need to encourage our students to pursue exciting, well-paying careers in the tech-driven auto industry.”

To help change the brand Snyder announced, on August 5, a  new initiative – ‘We Run on Brainpower’ – designed to showcase the many cutting edge high technology jobs in today’s automotive industry and the opportunities they offer to Michigan students and residents.

To attract and retain the best and brightest in the industry, perceptions about the automotive industry must change, according to a 2014 study. The study, conducted by MICHAuto, found that only 41% of influencers are very likely to recommend a job in the automotive industry. Influencers includes parents with kids ages 12-17, adults in leadership roles of youth organizations, high school and college level educators, career counselors and academic advisors.

Those numbers do not bode well given the fact that researchers project there will be more innovations in vehicle technology and materials during the next five to 10 years than what has occurred in the last 100 years.

“The vehicles of tomorrow are being developed in Michigan today because our state is home to the nation’s highest concentration of engineers, designers, innovators and IT specialists,” Snyder said.  “As Michigan continues to develop these technologies, we must attract and retain the talent needed in these fields.”

Snyder late last year created a new department to address the growing need for tech and high skill personnel in Michigan. Announced in December 2014, the Department of Talent and Economic Development began formal operations in March 2015. Its director, Steve Arwood, also leads the MEDC as its chief executive. 

“Michigan continues to be the epicenter of the automotive industry as the home of top-tier suppliers, automakers and startups,” said Kevin Kerrigan, senior vice president of the MEDC’s Automotive Office. “Just last month we saw Mcity, the first autonomous vehicle test facility of its kind, open in Ann Arbor and that’s only the beginning of what is being developed in our state. We need the talent that’s out there to realize that Michigan is a place where you can seriously grow your career and that it’s a pretty great place to live, too.”

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