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Automation Alley, OCC To Train Tech Workers With $5M Grant

PONTIAC -- Automation Alley Monday disclosed how it will use the $5 million worker training grant it announced in February: To give nearly 1,000 Michiganders highly sought IT skills for jobs now open at Hewlett-Packard, Lakeside Software, and other tech firms.

The official launch of the Technical Talent Development Program took place at HP's huge South Boulevard complex in Pontiac, a former GM and EDS office building where 2,000 HPers now work.

Jane Montecillo, director of U.S. Public Sector Leveraged Delivery and Quality, HP Enterprise Services, said she has an urgent need for software developers, software testers and data engineers -- and less urgently, for business analysts, project managers and software architects. This program, she said, will help.

Lakeside Software will also take advantage of the program to train hard-to-find IT specialists, said its founder and president, Michael Schumacher.

Schumacher said Lakeside software helps large companies "analyze how people use their computers ... medium size and big companies use this data to size their computer systems and improve the experience of users. The kind of skills we need in people to develop these products are very hard to find, and change frequently. This program lets us locally find the people that we need to fill the jobs that we've got."

The program turns the usual pattern of work force development on its head, officials said.

"Typically, we in work force development train people for jobs we believe will become available in the future, based on labor market data," said John Almstadt, manager of the Oakland County Workforce Development Division. "Under the program we celebrate today, we will train people for jobs our friends at HP and Lakeside Software have already created ... a wise and effective investment of public dollars."

Of the 1,000 people to be trained under the four-year program, about 300 will become HP employees, and another 90 will become employees of Lakeside Software.

The program lets companies identify the people they want, who are placed for pre-hire training and are employed as long as their training is completed. The program includes an assessment, comprehensive classroom training, mentorship and coaching, so participants will gain an in-depth understanding of specific skills and hands-on practice.

HP will hire people under the program at its U.S. Public Sector Applications Delivery Center in Pontiac. The first program that is a candidate for these training funds started in July and is taking place now at Oakland Community College's Auburn Hills campus.

Under the program, training funds will be allocated for local unemployed candidates through collaboration between employer partners and Michigan Works agencies. Employee training will include industry recognized vendor certifications. Training will be provided by local corporate training companies, work force development organizations and educational institutions such as OCC.

For more information on getting TTDP trained staff for your company or organization, call (800) 427-5100 or email

Automation Alley director Ken Rogers said the program is more proof of Michigan's rebound.

"The MEDC says Michigan now has the second highest growth rate in Michigan," Rogers said. "Michigan is back and the lights are on. Our population is growing again."

And U.S. Sen Debbie Stabenow added: "Michigan is a center for technological innovation ... This grant is of a piece with the U.S. Patent Office opening a branch office in Detroit, its first outside Washington, D.C. This is not by accident. This is the place where things are happening ... We're the place with the people, the ideas and the skills."

HP took over the former Electronic Data Systems offices in Pontiac when HP bought EDS in 2008. The 600,000-square-foot building was formerly a General Motors truck division property, and later housed GM purchasing.

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