OAKLAND TOGETHER: A message from Dave Coulter, Oakland County Executive


November 3, 2021

Bi-Weekly Executive Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Even before COVID hit us in 2020, we knew we had fundamental challenges on many fronts, including how to continue to stay economically competitive in Oakland County.

Businesses were telling us for years that many of their key openings were going unfilled because of the lack of qualified applicants.

That meant that some of those businesses were moving to areas where there was a larger pool of skilled and educated people ready to jump into jobs immediately.


The regions of the country that have been the most intentional and strategic in their efforts to increase educational attainment for their residents are the ones that have been most successful on the economic front. I know that Oakland County has an advantage in this area, but we can’t take it for granted if we truly want to compete in the global marketplace.

So one of the areas where we’ve really leaned in since I became county executive in 2019 was our Oakland80 initiative, which has a goal of getting 80 percent of our adults a college degree or certified training certificate by 2030.

We’re at 61 percent now, so the next nine years are going to be a heavy lift. But we know if we’re going to attract these companies and their good-paying jobs for our residents, we’ve got to commit. The pandemic has only made the issue more urgent, as people have lost their jobs or have begun to look for new opportunities. As a result, businesses are struggling even more to find people to fill vacant slots.

Our Workforce Development department has been diligently working to help us achieve the Oakland80 goals by working with community colleges, universities and other training programs to place students in programs that will lead to rewarding careers.

And Rana Al-Igoe, who started as the Oakland80 administrator last month, is leading the way to super charge the effort.

The goals include increasing the number of students who not only enroll in college or training, but then successfully complete the programs because, too often, folks are sidetracked by life and responsibilities and pause their studies.

Rana also knows that helping students become graduates takes some wraparound services for people who are facing barriers, like lack of affordable child care, inconsistent transportation and being able to afford books and supplies. The Oakland80 initiative will help with those things too.

Our career navigators will help people pinpoint their dream career path that satisfies both their interests and the needs in the local workforce.

This effort is partially about attracting businesses to Oakland County because those employers will see that they’ll find skilled and trained workers here. But it is also about getting our residents – and we hope this effort attracts new people to move to Oakland – the skills they need to get hired for good paying jobs that will boost the quality of life for themselves and their families.

Fortunately, we’ve got some federal funding coming in through the American Rescue Plan that we’ve already earmarked for this initiative and are mapping out how we can expand the effort when the rest of the ARPA dollars head our way.

If we’re not intentional about it and put the resources into a skilled and educated workforce, we’ll lose our advantage in this tenuous economic environment.

With gratitude,

Dave Coulter

Oakland County Executive

Career counseling, education assistance available

Oakland County’s six Michigan Works! workforce development offices – in Pontiac, Novi, Southfield, Oak Park, Waterford and Troy – are open and ready to help students and adults choose a dream career path and provide the resources to get the education and training to reach that goal.

Among the services offered by Michigan Works! for job seekers:

The offices also help employers with talent recruitment and training funds, apprenticeship programs, job fairs, candidate pre-screening and employee retention programs.

Oakland County also is partnering with the state on the Michigan Reconnect program, which offers free tuition to eligible adults who are enrolling in classes for in-demand jobs in manufacturing, construction,, information technology, health care and business management. The county also offers wraparound assistance for students who face challenges with things like child care, transportation and the paying for books and supplies.

For more information about all the services offered by Oakland County Michigan Works!, go to oakgov.com/workforce.

Oakland Health Division gearing up for pediatric COVID vaccines

With FDA approval of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, the Oakland County Health Division is preparing to begin vaccinating the county’s younger residents.

The county, which has already placed preliminary orders for the vaccine for children, is coordinating with school districts to determine the best way to roll out the doses for students.

“Immunizing residents who remain unvaccinated is vital to limiting the transmission of COVID-19,” Oakland County Health Division Medical Director Dr. Russell Faust said. “The more residents who get the COVID-19 vaccine, the closer we will be to slowing the pandemic to manageable levels.”

pumpkin auction

Oakland County pumpkin auction benefits Gilda’s Club

Oakland County employees gathered virtually last week for a spooky, fun and philanthropic annual tradition.

The annual pumpkin auction featured Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter as auctioneer and 25 elaborately decorated pumpkins from 34 employees representing 15 departments across the county.

And the proceeds from the auction – from the $1 per vote for a favorite pumpkin to bids of several hundred dollars in the live auction of the pumpkins – raised more than $3,300 for Gilda’s House, a non-profit agency in Royal Oak that provides support and services to people whose lives have been touched by cancer.

Gilda’s House, named for comedian, Saturday Night Live cast member and Detroit native Gilda Radner, was founded by eight women who were all facing cancer themselves or with a loved one. Oakland County Commissioner Marsha Gershenson was one of the eight founding members of the Club. The headquarters of the organization opened in 1998.

40 under 40

Oakland Together 40 Under 40 deadline approaching

Don’t delay! The deadline to apply to become one of the 2022 Oakland Together 40 Under 40 class members is approaching.

Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter met with past members of the 40 Under 40 group last week to talk about what the program has meant for them and their careers. All noted that being a member has opened doors to new friendship and opportunities.

For nearly 10 years, the 40 Under 40 program has been recognizing the bright young entrepreneurs, business and non-profit leaders and public servants, who live or work in Oakland County. The members have been making a difference in communities, which is the embodiment of the county’s Oakland Together philosophy.

To learn more about the program and apply for a spot in the 2022 40 Under 40 class, go to: oakgov.com/40Under40. The deadline to apply is Nov. 15.