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    EV Jobs Academy places Michigan at EV forefront

    February 2, 2023 - Tom Adamich


      As we move forward in the age of electrification and the use of alternative fuels (and related technologies), the EV Jobs Academy will continue to place Michigan at the forefront of investment in next-generation vehicles. I've had the privilege of working on behalf of Monroe County Community College with partners in the EV Jobs Academy initiative.

      According to the EV Jobs Academy information website, the EV Jobs Academy is an employer-led collaborative comprised of over 100 stakeholder partners to identify the electrified vehicle and mobility-related occupational skill needs while developing and scaling postsecondary credentialing programs utilizing a turn-key, online, shared learning platform for the Michigan Occupational Deans Administrative Council (MODAC), which is 32-member colleges and universities located throughout Michigan.

      The Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN) and its Southeast Michigan Community Alliance (SEMCA) were awarded a $5 million grant from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity's Office of Employment & Training and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) to carry out this work over a five-year timeframe.

      The EV Jobs Academy's goal is rapid and accelerated training and retraining for emerging technologies in connected, autonomous, lightweight, hybrid, electric, alternative fuel and other advanced vehicle technologies. Following the launch of EV Jobs Academy's first phase, it is anticipated the numbers of trained and retrained individuals will continue to grow significantly.

      MCCC has been talking about EVs and their role in future mobility since the mid-2010s when it was part of the 2014 Center for Advanced Automotive Technology (CAAT) grant awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). At that time, MCCC, as a member of the Southeastern Michigan Community College Consortium, helped establish the CAAT, currently headquartered at Macomb Community College. One of the goals of the 2014 CAAT grant was to create what was identified as the first public EV charging station installation in Monroe County. Its purpose was to educate students in renewable energies, smart grid integration, and installation and maintenance of electric vehicle charging stations.

      Today, MCCC, as part of the EV Jobs Academy, has worked to identify and engage partners at the municipal government and economic development levels. As a result, Monroe County communities like Luna Pier (with Mayor Jim Garner – a former Ford engineer – as a key Monroe County EV advocate) as well as the Monroe County Economic Development Corp. (Monroe County EDC, with Matt Vanisacker as vice president of business development) are leading conversations about building strong EV charging infrastructure and connecting Monroe County residents and visitors with future EV/alternative fuel jobs, recreational opportunities and other benefits.

      During my time in this role, I have had the opportunity to learn more about the EV/alternative fuel landscape in Michigan and nationally. I've also reviewed and analyzed many parts of the developing electric vehicle industry including job creation/retention, EV charging infrastructure development, etc. Here are some of my takeaways from that work:

      • EV is part of an alternative fuels ecosystem. It joins compressed natural gas (CNG), propane, biofuel (ethanol derived from corn is an example), and hydrogen as the major alternative fuel sources in the U.S. Each fuel type has advantages and disadvantages for personal, commercial and public use. These pros and cons should be part of any plans to adopt an alternative fuel for long-term use.

      • Public utilities are key EV partners. Successful EV adoption relies on public utilities to supply power and support charging infrastructure investment. For-profit utilities in our area (DTE Energy and Consumers Energy) join public power providers like the city of Holland to help negotiate for set utility rates with Michigan state utility regulators, develop/implement plans to upgrade and maintain power grids, and seek the most efficient fuel sources for power generation (which may include a combination of nuclear, wind, solar, natural gas, coal and hydroelectric). Productive relationships with our utilities in Southeast Michigan makes sense now and in the future.

      · EV jobs are growing. While both the EV Jobs Academy and EV/alternative fuel jobs are still in their infancy, there is great potential for Monroe County and surrounding areas to benefit from the EV technician and EV engineering jobs (and related education and training) that will become part of a total mobility network. Michigan still received three times the U.S. investment in these new technologies over its nearest state competitor (Ohio), according to recent figures. This bodes well for Michigan's growing "mobility" industry and Monroe County/Southeast Michigan's role in it.

      Finally, another bright spot for the EV Jobs Academy and Monroe County Community College is the future growth of the e-recreational vehicles industry in Michigan and related outdoor opportunities which use e-recreational vehicles. Brad Garmon, the MEDC's Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office senior strategic adviser and executive director, shared that plans are in the works to develop an E-bike 101 presentation, share information on e-recreational vehicles and their use in Michigan (including e-snowmobiles) and help to bring together entrepreneurs and others interested in promoting e-recreational vehicle innovation and use throughout Michigan. That way, everyone has the opportunity to enjoy accessible and affordable e-vehicles as they explore the natural beauty and environmental assets Michigan offers everyone every day.

      Tom Adamich is the electric vehicle awareness coordinator at Monroe County Community College.


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