Tight Knit™ is a series about the many ways people are working to build stronger relationships and communities.

Season 2 follows teens and adults as they navigate the various pathways that can lead to good jobs and careers, and the systems that can support or impede their success.

Centered in Southeast Michigan and Western New York, Tight Knit™ shares multifaceted stories of our workforce system, from reviving high school career tech education to growing industries, career paths to policies, personal goals to employer needs and beyond. This is a series about our access to work and its influence on our world.

Brought to you by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and produced in partnership with WDET, the eight-episode podcast will be released in installments over the course of Summer 2023.


Listen to the Tight Knit™ podcast series on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
The Workforce Pipeline

Episode 01:The Workforce Pipeline

Episode one sets the stage for this season of Tight Knit: Workforce Development. We start out by defining workforce development and job training, drawing a line to connect the concepts of career, job, education and the American dream of fulfillment.

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Get Your Education!

Episode 02:Get Your Education!

This week we look at how public education helps the workforce, and we talk to one teenager who loves shop class at Detroit’s Randolph Career and Technical Center, and to Dean Don Hutchison at Macomb Community College who had a bumpy road after high school.

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Manufacturing in a New Era

Episode 03:Manufacturing in a New Era

At Buffalo’s Northland Workforce Training Center on Buffalo’s Eastside, men and women are finding new careers in advanced manufacturing. The center’s programs help to fill a skilled trades workforce gap in Western New York. In Detroit, Sarah Gregory with Detroit Regional Partnership explains how they draw business to Southeastern Michigan.

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Jump Starting Careers in Construction and Beyond

Episode 04:Jump Starting Careers
in Construction and Beyond

Take a deeper look at how workforce development programs, government, and businesses cooperate to keep workers and build economic opportunity. This episode also explores financial risks of these changes and the impacts on communities at large.

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An Electric Future for Gen Z

Episode 05:An Electric Future for Gen Z

From solar cells and batteries to electric vehicles, the future is electric. Getting there takes a coordinated effort among nonprofits, schools and colleges, businesses and governments. We talk to Square One Education Network, Say Yes! Buffalo, Labor and Economic Opportunity and Our Next Energy about upskilling workers and enticing young people to the field.

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Who Are You Willing to Hire?

Episode 06:Who Are You Willing to Hire?

If businesses want to find enough workers, they’ll need to change their hiring practices, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. We look at programs that provide job opportunities for untapped workers and businesses why things have changed, what it means for business, and how nonprofits are stepping up to give those often overlooked an opportunity for a brighter future.

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The Bus Stops Here: Employers Try Solving Turnover

Episode 07:The Bus Stops Here: Employers Try Solving Turnover

A missed phone bill, a late bus, or even a not-quite-completed degree can derail employment for many. Meanwhile, employers suffer the cost of poor retention and few promotions within their entry-level workers. In this episode, we learn about the Employer Resource Network, ERN, which brings businesses together to solve sticky employment issues in their region. We talk to Trinity Health about their apprenticeships and skills-based hiring. Both have increased the health system’s retention and diversity. Finally, follow us as we try to take Metro Detroit buses to work.

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Working on a Bigger Picture

Episode 08:Working on a Bigger Picture

This season of Tight Knit has covered a lot of ground seeking to understand the landscape of workforce development in Southeast Michigan and Western New York. In our final episode, Tight Knit host Shannon Cason brings several guests to the table to answer the question: Where do we go from here to meet the
needs of so many stakeholders?

The conversation includes Chioke Mose-Teleford from the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, Greg Handel with the Detroit Regional Chamber, and Karen Utz from Empire State Development. Shannon also talks to Susan Dundon of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation about its north star for workforce

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About the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York, through its giving in four focus areas – active lifestyles, caregivers, entrepreneurship and economic development, and preparing for success. The two geographic regions reflect Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.’s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his Buffalo Bills franchise. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson requested that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the Foundation that bears his name. The Foundation has a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson’s desire for the Foundation’s impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable and overseen by those who knew him best.

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