Green Mobility: One Southeast Michigan cluster’s story of success

By: David Shevrin | New Perspectives Group

MAGMA programs have trained over 800 automotive industry workers for green jobs. The Michigan Academy for Green Mobility Alliance, or MAGMA, is building on its success by expanding its efforts to bring automotive manufacturing employers, educational institutions and the workforce system together to ensure the automotive industry has the trained workers in green technologies they need to succeed.

In 2009 the State of Michigan’s Workforce Development Agency collaborated with automotive manufacturing employers and educational institutions to establish MAGMA. Since that time, it has leveraged over $4.3 million to support training in advanced energy storage, hybrid electric battery engineering, and vehicle electrification. To date, these MAGMA-endorsed courses have trained over 800 automotive employees and unemployed individuals looking to develop a career in this fast growing industry.

So what is the secret of their success? Greg Moss, MAGMA co-chair and Instructional Design Specialist at DENSO says, “MAGMA has demonstrated that it can bring industry partners together with educational partners to adapt curriculum at the speed of change, helping us ramp up hiring of technicians and engineers skilled in new automotive green technologies.”

And the need for highly skilled worker is definitely there. Automotive manufacturers and their suppliers are in need of engineering and technical talent to support hybrid, electric, and other advanced vehicle technologies. A 2012 survey of manufacturers by the Workforce Intelligence Network of Southeast Michigan indicated 73% of respondents were hiring engineers and 37% were hiring technicians. There are approximately 1,400 projected openings for mechanical, electrical, and electronics engineers and technicians annually. MAGMA, which includes over 17 automotive manufacturers and suppliers, makes up a large portion of this demand, much of it located in the Southeast Michigan region.

Randall Champagne, MAGMA co-chair and Project Manager of GM Global Battery Systems adds that, “This training has helped take people who are skilled in an area that is not in demand, and allow them to get the skills they need to get hired or retain employment in a higher demand field like vehicle electrification.” To meet this need, educational institutions have been rapidly developing programs that are producing job ready technicians and engineers. Several of these programs have been supported by DOE grants and all of them have been developed with extensive input of the automotive industry. Some examples include:

Wayne State University Graduate Certificate Program in Electric Drive Vehicle Engineering; Macomb Community College’s One-year Certificate Program in Electric Vehicle Development Technology; Michigan Technology University’s Graduate Certificate in Hybrid Vehicle Engineering, that is available on line; and University of Detroit Mercy’s Advanced Electric Vehicles Graduate Certificate. MAGMA’s endorsement process ensures these programs meet employer needs and helps expedite the hiring process for their grads.

In addition, MAGMA has approved several non-credit Professional Development courses including, Wayne State University’s Fundamentals of Electric Drive Vehicles, Battery Systems, Motor Drives and Power Electronics for HEV/PHEV/BEV Applications, Automotive Direct Injection Engines; SAE International’s Introduction to Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Battery Systems, Safe Handling of High Voltage Battery Systems, Selective Catalytic Reduction for Diesel Engines, Gasoline Direct Injection Engines, Hybrid Vehicle Systems Integration, Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Engineering Academy.

To pay for these training programs MAGMA has helped secure over $3 million in Federal and State training grants including the State Energy Sector Partnership Grant and the Advanced Energy Storage Systems Initiative. See the side bar articles to learn more about these grants and how people who are qualified and have a strong desire to enter this exciting new field can apply.

In January 2012 the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Study examined 14 local initiatives listed by experts as among the most promising or innovative efforts in which local workforce boards collaborated with employers, education providers, and other partners to achieve positive results. The results of the study demonstrated an increased supply of skilled labor and job placements and a decrease in employer recruitment and turnover costs, as well as averted layoffs. MAGMA was one of the 14 promising or innovative efforts included in the GAO Study. Specifically, MAGMA was highlighted for its engagement of employers to identify shared workforce needs and develop innovative solutions to address those needs. MAGMA forged greater collaboration among education and training providers which resulted in adjustment of course content in response to shifting industry needs.

So what next for MAGMA? A recent planning effort has identified activities like increasing MAGMA’s membership to include more industry, educational and workforce partners, increasing their presence on the web, championing needed public policy, promoting student competition projects and scholarships, developing common credentials more portable, stackable certificates and credentials, and posting job openings and required skills on the web.

For more information about MAGMA visit their website located on the Macomb Community College Center for Automotive Technology website at

Leave a Reply