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  • Writer's pictureMichigan Works!

Making Economic Recovery Work for Everyone

Do you have a smartphone or computer with access to the internet? One of these free 90-day trainings can put you on track to employment and financial security. Apply here:

Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass, Van Buren announced it is opening enrollment in three free job skill training programs. The training is a part of The Future of Work Grand Challenge, a $6 million national initiative designed to put more than 25,000 individuals (5,000 in Michigan) impacted by COVID-19 layoffs and closures back to work in the next 24 months using emerging technologies. The training programs will begin in May and will complete in 90 days or less. To be eligible to participate, individuals must be currently unemployed or underemployed, have access to the internet and a computer or smartphone and not have earned a college degree. Individuals may continue to receive unemployment benefits while in training.

The Future of Work Grand Challenge was launched in June 2020 through a groundbreaking collaboration between leading social impact organizations New Profit, JFF in Boston, XPRIZE in Culver City, California; MIT Solve in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The challenge identifies and funds the most promising solutions to support a more equitable economic recovery and better meet the needs of low-income, middle-skill and underserved workers at the local level.

In December 2020, West Michigan Works! and partners Michigan Works! Southwest and Michigan Works! Berrien-Cass-Van Buren were selected to participate in The Future of Work Grand Challenge.

“We’re excited to participate in the Future of Work Grand Challenge. We know that employers in our communities are in need of a trained workforce and this is a solution to fill that gap,” said Rick VanIttersum, Vocational Training Manager and Apprenticeship Success Coordinator at Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass, Van Buren. “In addition, these short-term trainings will give individuals the skills and support that they need to be successful in a high-demand industry. This is a tremendous opportunity for individuals looking to rejoin the labor force or actively seeking a new career.”

Training programs include rapid re-skilling for computer numerically controlled (CNC) machinists, customer service training and support for aspiring entrepreneurs or small business owners.

Individuals who are interested in learning more about any of the trainings or applying can visit

With nearly 3,000 Michigan openings each year, machinists are in high demand. The average wage for machinists in Michigan is $41,930. The skills learned in this training can be used in other occupations including industrial machinery mechanics, machinery assemblers and fabricators, tool and die makers and several manufacturing apprenticeship programs. The 90-day CNC machinists training combines online learning with nine sessions of mixed reality training completed at a Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass, Van Buren service center.

Sales and customer service skills are used in many industries including health care, hospitality and banking. In Michigan, the average wage for sales and customer service jobs is $19.71 per hour. The 90-day training includes real-world team projects and feedback from a skills coach to develop the proficiencies needed to succeed at a job in sales or customer service. 

Individuals who successfully complete the CNC machinist or customer service training will be connected with employers who have expressed interest in hiring participants from this program. 

“We are really excited by this opportunity to provide the people of Michigan with a new way of developing the skills they need to jumpstart a career in sales or customer service,” said Prue Clifford, vice president partnerships - North America, Practera. “We passionately believe that everyone, regardless of their age or background, should be able to access education and training that develops the skills they need to not just get a job but to succeed.”

For individuals facing significant obstacles to traditional employment, entrepreneurship may offer an alternative path to generating income. The pilot training will emphasize impacting marginalized communities facing significant obstacles to traditional employment. The entrepreneurship training consists of a facilitated online workshop and basic training program. Participants will gain knowledge of business concepts, create a business plan and budget, connect with microlenders and other small business support resources and develop important soft skills such as critical thinking and decision-making. 

About Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass, Van Buren

Michigan Works! of Berrien, Cass, Van specializes in educating, training, and employing individuals of all ages. We work with local businesses to find out what keeps them up at night and help them tackle the most pressing challenges they may face, including attracting and retaining talent. For more information, visit

About New Profit Inc.

New Profit Inc. is a nonprofit venture philanthropy fund that exists to help innovative social entrepreneurs and their organizations bring about widespread and transformative impact on critical social problems. We work to fulfill this mission with two approaches: 1) providing multi-year financial and strategic support to help a portfolio of innovative social entrepreneurs and their organizations realize their full potential for social impact; and 2) helping to build an environment in which all innovative social entrepreneurs and their organizations may realize their full potential for social impact. New Profit Inc. believes that just as entrepreneurship and invention have driven our nation’s progress, so too can we harness America’s spirit of innovation, vision, and optimism to help solve our most pressing social problems.

With the support of individual investors, New Profit Inc. works with social entrepreneur-led organizations tackling persistent social problems in education, workforce development, public health, and other areas. In addition, we bring together social innovators from across sectors at the annual Gathering of Leaders, and also drive other initiatives to release the potential of social entrepreneurship. Included among these is America Forward, a nonpartisan initiative that connects social sector innovators and their partners with policymakers, legislators, and thought leaders to advance an infrastructure for innovators and government to act together to scale the impact of proven and promising solutions.


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