Addressing the Automotive Skills Gap in Michigan

This past week, Gov. Rick Snyder (MI-R) announced that filling the skills gap was one of his top priorities to help address unemployment and bolster Michigan's economy.

On that same note, a recent study conducted by MICHauto, an economic development initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber, found that less than half of college-aged youth surveyed believe the automotive industry offers "growth in terms of opportunity and advancement in manufacturing, skilled traders and for those with advanced degrees."

"In order for Michigan to continue to be the global epicenter for the automotive industry, we must attract and retain highly skilled talent," said Nigel Francis, senior automotive advisor to the state of Michigan.  "Programs that promote automotive careers to the next generation of our workforce, train highly skilled trades people, and help students understand and pursue career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies are key."

Nigel Francis discussing the automotive industry in Michigan at the Mackinac Policy Conference. Nigel Francis discussing the automotive industry in Michigan at the Mackinac Policy Conference.

BASF is supporting the industry by working with both Secondary and Post-Secondary schools to attract and educate young, aspiring students interested in learning about the automotive collision and repair industry.

A longtime partner with the Collision Repair Education Foundation, and numerous other Collision Repair Industry organizations, BASF provides financial support and expertise to schools around the country.  This helps ensure that the school's curriculum can continue to train students in automotive repair.

Most recently, BASF partnered with Saginaw Career Opportunity Center in Central Michigan to help support its automotive program by upgrading the paint mixing system. Support will also involve planning and equipment layout, supplying paint products and providing counsel in adding paint and repair training components to the overall curriculum of the program.

"Using our expertise and resources at BASF to grow the automotive industry training infrastructure is something we are proud of," says Joseph Skurka, OEM and industry relations manager at BASF. "By supporting these programs at high schools and colleges, we are helping these students gain the skills they need to excel and find a passion for this line of work."

Last week, Buick and BASF also announced the winners of a joint design competition, which encouraged students at the College of Creative Studies to design the Buick Buick of 2030 using BASF materials and inspiration from the Buick brand.

Joseph Skurka with CCS students at BASF's Automotive Refinish Application and Training Center in Whitehouse, Ohio. Joseph Skurka with CCS students at BASF's Automotive Refinish Application and Training Center in Whitehouse, Ohio.

These programs, and others like it, will help address the skills gap in Michigan and work to encourage individuals that there is, in fact, opportunity and advancement available in the automotive industry.

"BASF is among a group of Michigan companies that are leading the industry with programs that not only help ignite interest in automotive careers, but also ensure the workforce has the right skills through training," said Francis.  "Companies that embrace and implement these programs also create a competitive advantage for themselves. It's all about having the right talent, at the right place and at the right time."