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Manager of Apprenticeships and BRNs Receives Values in Action Award

Northwest Michigan Works! Manager of Apprenticeships & Business Resource Networks, Evelyn Szpliet, has received the Networks Northwest Values in Action Award for the third quarter of 2018. Szpliet was recognized for being a leader who is pushing our organization to the forefront of workforce development, and for being a great example of what our program has to offer. The Values in Action Award was presented by Networks Northwest CEO, Matt McCauley, Northwest Michigan Works! Director, Terry Vandercook, and Northwest Michigan Works! Business Services Coordinator, Rob Dickinson.

Evelyn first worked for Michigan Works! about 30 years ago when she spent three summers with the organization as a Clerical Assistant. She returned in 2015 as an Employment Services Specialist, and also worked as a Career Facilitator and the Apprenticeship Success Coordinator before taking on her current role.

When Evelyn was the Apprenticeship Success Coordinator, she grew the position into an integral part of our team and also the Michigan Works! Association at large. Evelyn has shown a great capacity for relationship building and bringing all her resources to bear when working with our customer, the employer. She has also shown through example that working with job seekers to connect them with opportunities with our employers is a great way to extend our mission here at Northwest Michigan Works!. 

Evelyn always makes sure she works with her colleagues to understand what might be available to the employer she is working with. For example, braiding funding sources to incentivize an employer to set up their first apprenticeship program, through our WIOA funding, Skilled Trades Training Fund, and others. With skillful execution, Evelyn has promoted and guided many Apprenticeship Programs, seeing employers all the way through the process. From taking the first phone call to sitting down with the employer to brainstorm and put down on paper their own apprenticeship standards, and then celebrating the enormous accomplishment of getting the apprenticeship program Department of Labor certified. 

It was just this year that Evelyn, working with a local employer, was able to celebrate and congratulate the first two winemaker apprentices in the state. A huge event was put together for this honor in which Evelyn played a big role. 

Evelyn has been tapped by both our regional and national partners to attend and speak at Apprenticeship focused conferences, representing Northwest Michigan Works! in places including Missouri and Washington. She is considered a go-to person when it comes to nontraditional Apprenticeships, a testament to her work and partnerships. Evelyn played a big role in the latest Michigan Educators Apprenticeship and Training Association (MEATA) conference, helping eight local employers prep for and receive official DOL recognition of their apprenticeship programs (nine occupations and 12 apprentices) in one day. The Advocates for Benzie County, with their pre-apprenticeship program (S.T.A.R.T.), have relied on Evelyn to provide a connection to Michigan Works! and also use her knowledge of training programs to make their program a success.

Evelyn has displayed excellence in her role here at Northwest Michigan Works! by being that example to follow and now she is hiring more team members that will be able to learn from her example.  

Networks Northwest spotlights employees on a quarterly basis who exemplify the organization’s Core Values of excellence, integrity, empowerment, innovation, optimism, collaboration, and/or celebration. Networks Northwest also presents an annual Standing Ovation Award to the staff member who represents many, if not all those core values, day in and day out. 

Our Township greatly benefits from Network Northwest's experience, depth of knowledge and understanding. Because they work with so many diverse communities in our ten-county region they understand the local land-use issues and are already working on solutions by the time we realize we need some help.
- Susan Odom, Chair, Suttons Bay Township Planning Commission