Statewide investment helps youth explore future careers in Michigan

State of Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, July 9, 2024

MEDIA CONTACT: Mike Murray 517-449-8231

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) today announced the recipients of awards totaling $640,000 to provide youth and young adults with career exploration and experience opportunities throughout the state.

“Every young Michigander deserves a fair shot at a bright future with a good-paying job and opportunities for growth,” said Governor Whitmer. “Today’s grants will connect young people with hands-on career exploration and experience activities at MiCareerQuest events, giving them a chance to speak to professionals from a variety of industries and learn about all the different paths they have to ‘make it’ in Michigan. Let’s keep working together to lower the cost of college and skills training so we can support workers and set our economy up for decades of strong, sustainable growth.”

Each of the state’s 16 Michigan Works! agencies have been awarded $40,000 to support the creation and/or enhancement of locally developed career exploration and experience events featuring multiple businesses and industries within each agency’s region. This funding is provided through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Governor’s Reserve Fund, which strategically supports preparing our future workforce, keeping youth in Michigan, and acquiring in-demand skills and postsecondary credentials, to benefit individuals, employers and communities. In alignment with the Michigan Statewide Workforce Plan and Gov. Whitmer’s commitment to creating opportunities for young people to “make it” in Michigan, LEO increased its funding to support this initiative by $160,000 over the previous year.

“This is an investment in Michigan’s future, and it’s an investment that directly supports our Statewide Workforce Plan that provides an all-access roadmap to build on Michigan’s success and ensure all Michiganders have the skills, opportunities, and support they need to make it in Michigan,” said LEO Director Susan Corbin. “Communities, regions and the state are working together to accelerate workforce, education and economic development activities to set up Michigan as a leading state in income mobility, good jobs and equity for decades to come.”

Each Michigan Works! agency will coordinate multiple business and industry representatives at a single location or virtual platform, including MiCareerQuest events or similar career exploration and experience events. MiCareerQuest is an interactive, best-in-class event designed to engage middle and high school students through hands-on activities and one-on-one conversations with professionals from various industries.

“This innovative initiative allows our Michigan Works! partners to take a localized approach to support young Michiganders, placing them on the right path to achieve lifelong economic self-sufficiency,” said Stephanie Beckhorn, Director of LEO’s Office of Employment and Training. “We are committed to helping our youth find success in Michigan.”

Over the past year, Michigan Works! agencies hosted eight large-scale career exploration and experience events throughout the state with more than 17,000 students and about 450 employers participating. Michigan Works! Southwest held two MiCareerQuest events, hosting a combined 4,800-plus attendees and more than 100 participating employers.

“Career exploration events provide an avenue for youth to gain information regarding the skills and qualifications required for in-demand careers that peak their interests, providing them the opportunity to develop informed and personalized education and training plans,” said Michigan Works! Southwest Director Jakki Bungart-Bibb. “Career exploration instills a mindset of lifelong learning, and this proactive approach also contributes to addressing skill shortages in key industries. Events, such as MiCareerQuest, offer a real-life hands-on experience that allow youth to actively engage in learning where they can visualize themselves in various roles.”

Michigan Works! agencies also encourage event participants to use Pathfinder, the state’s free online tool to explore careers and identify educational opportunities. Using current labor market, wage and institutional data and metrics, Pathfinder creates individualized career roadmaps for each visitor, empowering them to make informed decisions about future educational and career options.

Parents and young Michiganders should contact their local Michigan Works! agency to find out what programs are available to support their academic and career training goals. To contact the nearest Michigan Works! Service Center, call 800-285-WORKS (9675) or visit


To read the official press release on the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s website, select the button below:

Official Press Release