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Feds Give Automation Alley $5 Million For IT Training

TROY -- Automation Alley, Michigan's largest technology business association, was recently awarded a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor under the H-1B Technical Skills Training Grant Competition.

Automation Alley will use the funds to make high-level IT training available to local partner companies, including HP Enterprise Services and Lakeside Software, who have committed to hiring hundreds of new employees in Southeast Michigan.

Automation Alley applied for the grant in partnership with Oakland Community College and the Michigan Works Agencies of Oakland County, with additional support provided by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Sen. Carl Levin and the Michigan delegation in the House of Representatives.

With Michigan's economy on the rise, many local technology companies have expressed a need to fill high-level IT positions with specific skills, such as software developers for applications, database administrators, computer specialists and computer user support specialists. However, those companies have struggled to find qualified employees within the local talent pool. The H-1B nonimmigrant visa program allows U.S. companies to hire foreign workers for these types of positions, and applies the fees acquired through the program to the creation of training opportunities like this one. These programs will ultimately decrease national dependence on nonimmigrant workers and the H-1B visa program.

"Our organization was created to address the need for highly skilled workers in technology-related fields," said Automation Alley executive director Ken Rogers. "This grant provides the resources for Automation Alley and our partners to address that ongoing need. This is an extraordinary opportunity for both the workforce and the partner companies. It's a significant step towards a positive, tech-driven future for our state."

Partner companies were selected as a direct result of their immediate need for a significant number of new hires, coupled with their willingness to hire unemployed candidates, if properly trained. 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, workforce development organizations, and educational institutions such as Oakland Community College.

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Since its founding in 1999, Automation Alley has expanded to include nearly 1,000 businesses, educational institutions and government entities from the city of Detroit and the surrounding eight county region. Automation Alley promotes regional prosperity through entrepreneurial and exporting assistance, workforce development and technology acceleration.

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