Young adults take part in Talent Tours at local employers

Michigan Works! West Central coordinates tours for clients wanting info about a specific industry 

REED CITY – Although a bakery, machine shop/plastics manufacturer and the military may be in different employment sectors, they do have one thing in common in today’s economy – they all are looking for qualified talent to join their respective workforces.

A small group of young adults were able to tour these employers’ facilities, ask questions and see up close what it is they do for a living.

Through Michigan Works! West Central’s Talent Tour program, four young adults were able to recently tour Reed City Group, White Stone Bakery and visit with the Michigan National Guard to get a better picture of the different industry sectors.

Talent Tours introduce young adults, parents and educators to available career paths in the region by offering behind-the-scenes looks at in-demand businesses and industries. They also provide up-to-date information regarding employer, education and training requirements necessary to find employment in those fields.

“Meeting the people at the employers that you’d be working with was the best part,” said Clara Maddox, a 22-year-old Reed City resident who participated in the recent Talent Tours. “Getting to know how they feel about their kind of work and what it takes to do it was interesting. There were interesting things at all three employers.”

At Reed City Group, those on the tour got a chance to look at the machining process up close, as well as their existing plastics manufacturing department and burgeoning Life Science and Medical division in former NABCO building across the street from their main facility.

“I already knew what an CNC machine is and how it works, but I’ve never seen a commercial one up close,” Maddox said. “It was pretty cool to see it in action.”

The second stop of the day was to the new White Stone Bakery in downtown Reed City, where owner/baker Michelle Sines shared the story of how she got into culinary arts and eventually owning her own business.

“Growing up, I didn’t want anything to do with the kitchen,” Sines said with a laugh. “My first baking job was at a restaurant down the road from where I lived. That was 25 years ago, but it was very natural for me to be a baker. … If you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like a job, and I love what I do. Baking is my therapy.”

Those on the tour were able to take a hands-on approach to learning about baking, as Sines set them up to frost cupcakes in her commercial baking space. Sines, who’s workday starts as early as 4:30 a.m. some days, also was able to provide her guests an idea of what it takes to own and operate their own business, and what she’s looking for in employees.

“I look for people with a positive attitude, a willingness to work and those who feel comfortable to be themselves,” Sines said.

The final tour of the day was with the Michigan National Guard. Although their recruiting center is located in Big Rapids, two guardsmen traveled to the Michigan Works! West Central service center in Reed City to give a presentation to the young adults on the tour. They also brought a Humvee that participants could look at up close and sit in.

“The Talent Tours were a great success,” said Vanessa Wolgamott, a talent specialist with Michigan Works! West Central. “Talking with the clients who participated afterward, they said they found value in the tours. A couple even filled out applications at the bakery.”