The 2017 fiscal year found West Michigan Works! continuing to grow, change and improve as a regional entity. A focus on cost-cutting and innovative approaches to programmatic services led to direct service delivery for Allegan, Barry, Ionia, and Montcalm counties. This, plus a new Hastings service center location and partnership with North Kent Connect, resulted in easier access and improved services for job seekers.
With overall unemployment rates hovering around 3%, West Michigan employers continued to struggle to find qualified talent. We looked at creative ways to address these gaps. In the long-term, we remained committed to educating youth on high-demand and high-wage occupations across the region. Short-term, we helped employers secure Skilled Trades Training funds and expanded apprenticeship programs for non-traditional industries/occupations.
We had the honor of being highlighted nationally for our work on regionalization and our ongoing partnerships with the Medical Assistant Registered Apprenticeship program, which included a visit from U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta and Governor Rick Snyder.
You will notice a running theme throughout this report: collaboration. We share our outcomes and achievements with our regional partners and thank them for their continued support.