Manufacturing Growth Alliance sets labor pipeline tour for mid-February

Southwest Michigan’s Manufacturing Growth Alliance (MGA) is asking area manufacturers to take a closer look at a nontraditional talent pipeline — the correctional system. In mid-February, the MGA is guiding a tour of the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility’s Vocational Village to see what they call a first-of-its-kind skilled trades training program.

Elizabeth Bernhard is Executive Director of the MGA and said this event is the first of many to engage with this potential labor pipeline.

“They have amazing labs where they train their participants in CNC, robotics, and welding. And so we’ll be taking a tour of their lab so that our employers in the area can consider this talent pipeline.”

Bernhard says incarcerated individuals receive full days of training and classroom instruction intended to mimic a typical workday, and on completion they receive state and nationally-recognized certificates in their chosen trade. From there, the focus is on helping released individuals regain their footing in a stable workplace.

“When an individual leaves prison as a parolee, they get enrolled to work with our offender success program. And so what that means is they’re there to help with barrier remediation, to help with getting into employment, but also more importantly, staying in employment with that barrier remediation piece.”

The tour and information session is set for Tuesday, February 13. The MGA is inviting local manufacturers to sign up now and see, first-hand, the labs and training programs where this highly-skilled talent pipeline can help close labor gaps in the local economy. 

To register for the event, visit


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