Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce Hears Workforce Update

The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce got an update on the region’s workforce Thursday morning.

Interim CEO of Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! Kristen Wenzel presented updated numbers during the chamber’s monthly percolator breakfast.

She says while the region’s workforce is declining, there are steps that can be taken to keep talent local.

“We’re preparing a lot of young people for their future in our region, both at the K-12 level and at the college level,” said Wenzel. “Why aren’t we connecting with them and showing them while they’re here, making them feel welcome, and exposing them to careers that exist right here in the region.”

Wenzel encourages employers to reach out to students and show them those local career opportunities, and to develop talent through co-ops, internships, and apprenticeship programs.

She says the region has other populations that can be brought into the workforce including people with disabilities, veterans, and foreign-born residents. Wenzel believes the key to getting those older populations to work is removing barriers like childcare and transportation.

“We need to make sure that the head of the single-parent households in our region have access to affordable childcare, and that the cost of childcare is not preventing them from entering into the workplace. If transportation is a challenge, how can we as a region come together to make transportation affordable and reliable so that people can get to work?”

Wenzel points to recent efforts, such as partnerships between local businesses and public transportation organizations, as ways businesses and organizations can work together to remove those barriers, and encourage participation in the workforce.