Employer Talent Solutions Working Group


West Michigan’s workforce is undergoing an unprecedented transformation caused by the accelerated retirement of Baby Boomers, a significant decline in labor force participation, the rise of hybrid work and other expectations of employees, rapid changes to the knowledge and skills required by employers caused by automation, AI, etc., and the competition for talent that is no longer confined to this labor market but extends nationwide.

TalentFirst’s research in late 2021 identified five (5) broad employer strategies effective in this new talent landscape. The degree of adoption of these strategies by individual employers can enhance their ability to attract and retain the talent they need to thrive. And, if adopted broadly by employers, can elevate the quality and scale of the region’s workforce, strengthen the connection between employers and the organizations that educate and train talent, and make the region more attractive to employers to locate or expand in the region.


Over the past three years, TalentFirst has increased its emphasis on highlighting effective strategies to attract and retain talent identified by this group, Diversity & Inclusion, and other working groups using in-person and online events, the website, and social media. Five (5) employer strategies were identified in Insights for the New Talent Landscape by employers across the region to improve the quality and scale of the West Michigan workforce. These strategies have been expanded on in TalentFirst’s Talent Solutions Playbook, which was first published in May 2022. These have been well received by TalentFirst members, regional economic development organizations, and workforce development organizations who are partnering to communicate and promote the strategies across West Michigan.

TalentFirst published Michigan’s Shrinking Workforce: Examining a 20-year Problem in October 2022, which is a summary of the Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) Study. Employers are key to reversing the downward trend.


TalentFirst will be recognized as one of the most trusted resources for talent solutions among West Michigan employers.


Organize all strategies and engagement on employer-driven talent strategies under the Employer Talent Solutions Working Group (ETS WG) to improve quality and availability of talent for members and regional employers.

This working group serves three core functions to achieve the future state:

  1. Offering education and training in leading practices through social media communications, TalentFirst’s website, round tables, and events.
  2. Humanizing TalentFirst’s data, research, and insights.
  3. Leveraging and engaging member HR leaders for advocacy on employer-relevant public policy.

  • Joe Dettmann, PhD, EY
  • Amy Kraal, HR Solutions Group
Project Manager
  • Carly Smyly, TalentFirst
  • Amway
  • ADAC Automotive
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
  • Comfort Research
  • Corewell Health
  • EG Workforce Solutions
  • Frontline Training Solutions
  • Gentex Corporation
  • Grand Valley State University
  • Haworth
  • Lumbermen's
  • Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Metal Flow
  • Michigan Software Labs
  • RDV Corporation
  • SoundOff Signal
  • Trinity Health Grand Rapids
  • Waséyabek Development Corporation
  • West Shore Community College