Advance Notice: Briefs

At global conference, Whitmer says Michigan is ‘upskilling’ workers for advanced manufacturing jobs

By: - January 17, 2023 3:43 pm

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on a World Economic Forum panel, Jan. 17, 2023 | World Economic Forum screenshot

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told world leaders Tuesday during the World Economic Forum her goals to create and recruit more manufacturing jobs in Michigan as the state faces a mild recession this year.

“You cannot assume that the industry alone will address this,” Whitmer said to a crowd of international business and economy leaders during the “Return of Manufacturing” forum at the conference in Zurich, Switzerland. “The government has a very important role in overseeing opportunities and ways to bring people prosperity and create individual integrity and work.”

The governor traveled to both Switzerland and Norway as part of her first economic development visit to Europe, making it the first-ever governor-led mission to Norway in recent history and the first Michigan governor trip to Switzerland since 2016. 

The economic development mission is sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. On Tuesday, the MEDC Executive Committee approved a new four-year contract for CEO Quentin Messer Jr., citing his leadership on landing electric vehicle and battery manufacturing projects.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on a World Economic Forum panel, Jan. 17, 2023 | World Economic Forum screenshot

Whitmer highlighted Michigan’s achievements in manufacturing and the natural resources of the Great Lakes State that sets it apart from the rest of the world.

Michigan was recently named one of three states poised to “dominate” electric vehicle battery manufacturing in the United States by 2030, alongside Georgia and Kentucky. 

Whitmer said that as Michigan transitions into advanced manufacturing, like electric vehicles and semiconductors, the state is working to “upskill the current population” of manufacturing workers. 

“I think that there still is an outdated assumption about what manufacturing means — that it’s dirty and it’s physical in a way that isn’t really reflective of how things work nowadays” Whitmer said. “We’re really working to reimagine how we communicate where the paths of opportunity are in this space.” 

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.