Four Battle Creek employers recognized as models for Registered Apprenticeship Programs

State of Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, December 21, 2023

MEDIA CONTACT: Mike Murray 517-449-8231

Local businesses joined state and federal officials to promote apprenticeships for employers, workers and the economy

LANSING, Mich. — Four Battle Creek employers earned honors Wednesday in a ceremony following a roundtable discussion at Kellogg Community College aimed at recruiting more area businesses to offer Registered Apprenticeships to build the local talent pipeline.

DENSO Manufacturing Michigan, Duncan Aviation, Grace Health and TC Transcontinental Packaging were honored as part of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s (LEO) Race to Talent with Registered Apprenticeship campaign in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL).

“We launched this campaign to spotlight and honor employers, sponsors and program intermediaries for their leadership in using the Registered Apprenticeship training model to develop highly skilled workers in Michigan,” said LEO Director Susan Corbin. “These Battle Creek employers are at the forefront of using Registered Apprenticeships to build the local talent pipeline. They stand as examples for other businesses in the region and throughout the state.”

The roundtable event, moderated by Ben Damerow, senior director of W.E. Upjohn Institute’s Center for Workforce Innovation and Solutions, highlighted the vast benefits of Registered Apprenticeship opportunities for employers and job seekers. It was hosted by LEO in partnership with Michigan Works! Southwest, state and federal labor and workforce development experts, and Battle Creek business leaders and employers.

Officials shared valuable information about the support available for local businesses to establish new or participate in existing Registered Apprenticeship Programs. Panelists included Michiko Alvarenga, apprenticeship and training representative for the USDOL’s Office of Apprenticeship – Michigan; Ashley Iovieno, director of business solutions, Michigan Works! Southwest; Scott Cubberly, executive director, Kellogg Community College’s Eastern Academic Center and Business and Industry Partnerships; Chong-Anna Canfora, executive director, Michigan Workforce Development Institute; and Bill Rayl, director of workforce solutions, Michigan Manufacturers Association.

Stephanie Beckhorn, director of LEO’s Office of Employment and Training, welcomed the opportunity to honor the Battle Creek employers as USDOL Registered Apprenticeship sponsors.

“By taking a leading role in Registered Apprenticeships, these employers have recognized the critical role this training model plays in sustaining and growing jobs in the Battle Creek area and throughout Michigan, not only for themselves, but for working families and our state’s economic future,” Beckhorn said. “We are grateful to be able to point to them as models for other employers to see the value of Registered Apprenticeships for their own organizations.”

Before being honored, the spotlighted employers participated in a roundtable discussion among area employers and state and federal workforce development leaders to talk about their experiences and the advantages of Registered Apprenticeships.

“Our Apprenticeship Program for medical assistants has been a game changer,” said Tara Hillman-Macleod, RN, Grace Health’s clinical manager of education. “We are able to provide a formal education with certification at the end of training for our medical assistants, all while they are earning a competitive wage. We are in a much better place with staffing and are proud of the great care our medical assistants provide to the community.”

Todd Greer, director of facilities and engineering production at DENSO’s thermal manufacturing facility in Battle Creek, branded Registered Apprenticeship as a vital talent development tool.

“Technical talent is a critical need for DENSO, and Registered Apprenticeships are a vital part of our talent development mix,” Greer said. “While the DENSO team does a great job of upskilling employees through internal training programs and community partnerships, support from the state of Michigan validates that we meet an industry standard for excellence. This ensures our team members have achieved the highest levels of technical expertise and are prepared to train others and continue pushing our company forward.”

Ricky Schaefer, maintenance manager at TC Transcontinental Packaging, took the opportunity to encourage others to consider applying for an apprenticeship.

“Unlock the power of precision with our Mechanical Apprenticeship Program tailored for the packaging industry,” Schaefer said. “Elevate your expertise, master the mechanics, both old and new, while shaping a future of innovation and efficiency. Your journey to success starts here, where craftsmanship meets cutting-edge technology and every package holds the promise of opportunity.”

Prior to the event, Duncan Aviation Michigan Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Andy Richards characterized Registered Apprenticeships as an investment.

“Duncan Aviation has benefited from our Registered Apprenticeship Program by helping to reduce skills gaps and tailor training, positive community engagement and recruitment, widening the talent pool and promoting diversity,” Richards said. “It’s important for companies to actively support and mentor apprentices to maximize the benefits of such programs and their impact on our community.”

Opportunities created through Registered Apprenticeship are available through a variety of fields deemed crucial to Michigan’s future, including construction, energy, health care, information technology, manufacturing and mobility.

Boosting awareness of Registered Apprenticeship represents part of LEO’s overall efforts to expand the talent pool and match employers with qualified employees to grow and sustain a vibrant economy. That effort strengthens Governor Whitmer’s Office of Sixty by 30 initiative to have 60% of Michigan’s working adults with a skills certificate or associate degree by 2030.

Registered Apprenticeship is an industry-driven, high-quality career training program in which employers develop and prepare Michigan’s future workforce. Apprentices gain paid work experience, related classroom instruction and a national industry-recognized credential upon program completion.

For more information on Registered Apprenticeship in Michigan, visit


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Official Press Release