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OESA partners with Intern in Michigan to find next-gen leaders

The Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA) announced a partnership with Intern in Michigan to provide its members free access to new technology they can use to find quality internship talent. It’s been obvious from the responses to the OESA’s Automotive Supplier surveys that the skills shortage and difficulty finding good talent in engineering and other manufacturing technical areas are creating bottlenecks for companies.

Clare Goldsberry

September 21, 2012

5 Min Read
OESA partners with Intern in Michigan to find next-gen leaders

In the September Automotive Supplier Barometer Survey, Human Resource Capability was the most significant “short-term (12 months) challenge” cited by OESA members. Comments on this question included “Skilled labor shortage. This causes a bottle neck in new product launches"; “ability to recruit talented engineering and sales team members"; “attracting/finding the talent needed to support the growth in the automotive industry, even with its slower projected growth”; and “securing qualified engineering talent to support our new product and manufacturing efforts is our greatest opportunity. Implement plans to attain and attract new employees.”
Powered by ‘Classroom to Career’ software technology, Intern in Michigan (IiM) uses innovative matching algorithms to make instant connections. Employers answer questions based on the skills and requirements they need, and are matched to students who fit that unique profile. By matching students to employers based on these factors, Intern in Michigan ensures that the candidates are well-suited for their experiential learning opportunities. This reduces the traditional barriers to effective internships, and streamlines the hiring process to save employers time and money while creating lasting relationships.
Wendy Pittman, Intern in Michigan Executive Director told PlasticsToday that the program was developed last November as a way to connect employers in Michigan who are looking for employees with students needing jobs in Michigan.  “Our goal is to help reduce brain drain and keep college-educated talent in Michigan,” she said.

The IiM program began in response to the O*NET (Occupational Informed Network) program from the U.S. Department of Labor. O*NET is a database of occupational requirements and worker attributes that describe occupations in terms of skills and knowledge required, how the work is performed and the typical work environment. That study encompasses 900 jobs.

Pittman explained that IiM took about 400 of those jobs and working with a process engineering firm – Digerati – designed a software technology that uses algorithms to break down complex problems and create efficiencies.  “The problem we identified was that of the inability of employers to find talent and students who said that they can’t find jobs,” said Pittman. “The IiM program facilitates the connection between companies in Michigan who want to utilize internships—either as a way to develop talent for eventual full-time employment or for experiential learning—to try out someone to see if there’s a fit between the person and the position before hiring them. Internships are a key tool to put people in the pipeline to build the next generation workforce.”
About 60% are paid internships, and approximately 68% of the interns that utilize the IiM program are offered full-time employment after their internship. Currently about 400 colleges, community colleges, and universities are on the IiM site. “We’ve had an uptick in interest for Fall internships with over 520 people looking for Fall internships,” Pittman said.  “These internships aren’t just for summer anymore.”

Employers can visit the site at www.interninmichigan.com and post opportunities for internships. When an internship is posted, the Classroom to Careers software begins to sort for all the students with profiles registered at the site to find a match. By posting for internship opportunities online and using the software algorithms, matches can be done at a faster pace and connections made quickly. “For small companies this is great,” Pittman stated.

A student can go to the site and post their profile by answering questions. This is good for 30 days, but they won’t actively get matches until they say they’re actually looking for an internship. Additionally, they can turn their profile on and off. “If they don’t get what they’re looking for, they might broaden their search to include other types of jobs that are similar,” explained Pittman. “The system behind the scenes provides alternative opportunities because there are enough correlated questions that it picks up the overlap for jobs the student might not have thought of. If there are co-related job titles the computer will pick that up and suggest these alternatives. There are about 13,000 students that have utilized the IiM site since last November.”

While the partnership with the OESA is relatively new, Pittman noted that IiM has had some early interest from them. “We met with their HR council and it was great response,” she said.  “Recruitment is difficult because just finding the students who are looking for specific internships in special focused areas is a huge job.”

Many companies work with their local high schools and community colleges to recruit for internships or apprenticeships, but IiM provides students from across the state of Michigan.
“One company hired an employee from a school where they’ve never hired from before,” said Pittman. “The supplier community typically works to recruit locally, but it never occurs to recruit from schools around the state. We help then get connected to new schools and find new students.”
OESA President and CEO Neil De Koker, said, “We were impressed with the depth of the program and the way it screens candidates so our members would get a very good understanding of who they may be bringing on. We encourage our members to consider using interns to both fill current needs and to generate possible candidates for future full-time positions.”

There are many skilled trade opportunities on the site, Pittman noted. And students range from high-school graduates (a requirement) to two-year associates degreed persons from community colleges and four-year college students. While business and finance is the most sought after internship from employers, the second most sought after is engineering. However, Pittman searched and found internship opportunities in tool and die making, drilling and boring machine tool setters, model and pattern makers for metal and plastics. “Over 100 students selected that last job title,” she said.

IiM is funded by the New Economy Initiative and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and has served employers such as Borg Warner, Inergy Automotive Systems, and Ficosa North America Corp. “This program is a great tool to attract talent,” Pittman noted. “It’s one way to connect the dots and provide a way to introduce students to a wide variety of career opportunities, especially in the automotive sector which us an important and dynamic industry in Michigan.”

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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