Michigan Springs Into Action To Help Auto Industry And Workers

With an eye toward improving the global competitiveness of both auto manufacturers and their suppliers, the Mott Foundation has made a $900,000 grant to the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in Ann Arbor. A second grant of $300,000 was awarded to the National Employment Law Project (NELP) with the goal of increasing the participation by dislocated workers throughout Michigan in retraining through the federally funded Trade Adjustment Assistance program.

"... efforts to subsidize manufacturing jobs in the face of global competition must be coupled with long-term strategies to improve the domestic manufacturers' economic competitiveness through better education and workforce development systems," explains Maureen H. Smyth, Mott's vice president for programs and communications.

CAR will use its grant to create the Program for Automotive Renaissance, which will seek to increase the level of cooperation and collaboration among the larger players in the state's automotive industry and create new business models to better compete in the global economy.

"This is an important first step in extending collaborative business practices and embracing globalization to ensure Michigan remains competitive in automotive technologies and labor education," said Sean McAlinden, CAR vice president of research and director of the program.

"Competitors who become allies can share best practices, practice collaborative engineering, pool resources, find innovative solutions faster and attract larger business opportunities than they could on their own."

CAR will launch and manage up to nine self-sustaining collaborative programs that will address common issues facing Michigan's automotive community. One program created with these funds will be The Global Automotive Marketing Alliance which will assist groups of Michigan supplier companies and communities in marketing to global automotive firms and suppliers, both in North America and overseas. Another program, The Program for Automotive Labor Education, will focus on the Bay-Saginaw-Genesee counties region by bringing together human resources executives, K-12 administrators, and community college and university faculty to create new models for curricula delivery, outreach programming and funding. They will address training and certification needs required by the global automotive industry as well as the anticipated skills shortage as current workers retire.

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