Michigan’s battle against brain drain: Washtenaw Community College FAME program connects students to careers

Michigan has been suffering from brain drain, the loss of in-state college graduates to other states after graduation, according to the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. Washtenaw Community College’s FAME program — the Michigan Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education, a work-and-learn program between the college and advanced manufacturing employers, has been taking steps to help the state change its trajectory. There are several FAME chapters across the nation; Washtenaw Community College started the first Michigan chapter in January.  

A sign on Washtenaw Community College’s campus. | Photo by One Detroit

“We know there’s, at any given time, 100,000 jobs open in Michigan. We know at any given time, Southeastern Michigan where we’re situated, has probably about 30,000 to 40,000 of those jobs,” Washtenaw Community College Vice President of Workforce Development and Community Engagement Brandon Tucker said. Tucker’s goal is to get more students enrolled in the FAME program and considering staying in Michigan for their careers. Part of that work starts in high school, talking with juniors and seniors about the career options available to them in the region. 

Continuing our exploration into Michigan’s population stagnation and the future of work, One Detroit Producer Will Glover visited Washtenaw Community College’s FAME program for a look at how it’s connecting students to careers in Michigan. Glover talks with FAME student Andrew Denton about how the program has changed his life and Washtenaw Community College graduate Mike Rudisill about his career in advanced manufacturing. Plus, he talks with other students on campus who are exploring different paths, revealing a spectrum of plans – from leaving the state to pursuing careers in Michigan.

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