Program to recruit talented workers back to Michigan

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DETROIT (Feb. 21, 11:30 a.m. ET) — The Engineering Society of Detroit this week will launch a new initiative to recruit engineers and scientists back to Michigan.

ESD will unveil its “Made in Michigan Pipeline” plan Thursday at the Dearborn Inn.

Christopher Webb, director of the ESD Institute, said ESD created the initiative after the trend of more jobs but fewer jobseekers emerged.

ESD’s job fair in spring 2009 attracted 1,400 jobseekers and 30 employers. Fewer than 500 jobseekers but more than 60 companies turned out for its latest event last fall.

“Just two years ago, when ESD held job fairs to match employers with engineers and technical professionals, the line of applicants was twice the job openings available,” Webb said in a statement. “Last year, those lines of supply and demand crossed and today the gap has reversed — more openings; less people. Employers hungry to hire can’t find the people they need.”

Several automotive suppliers, including Continental Automotive Systems Inc., Denso International America Inc. and Hirotec America Inc., are having troubles filling vacancies, executives told Crain’s in recent months.

Webb said the “Made in Michigan Pipeline” will focus on recruiting talent back to the state, retraining existing talent for current skill sets and retaining Michigan’s workforce.

“We’re through studying, we’re in an action mode now,” he said. “At some point we have to stop wondering where all the applicants went and provide pragmatic action plans that represent what we feel is solution to a stark reality.”

Webb declined to reveal specifics of the plan until Thursday’s conference.