Center for Workforce Innovation and Solutions

CWIS logo



The Center for Workforce Innovation and Solutions (CWIS) is committed to pioneering best practices in workforce development through program design, operation, and evaluation, striving to ensure successful outcomes for job seekers, employers, and communities.


CWIS recognizes that while securing jobs and developing employer programs are crucial, challenges in individuals’ lives can hinder their ability to obtain and retain employment, disrupting the entire system. CWIS operates a comprehensive workforce support network, spanning from childcare to job training to on-the-job resources. By assisting each individual, CWIS contributes to the resilience of the entire workforce ecosystem.


CWIS operates within the W.E. Upjohn Institute, an organization dedicated to employment research and community service. With 50 years of experience, CWIS continuously seeks innovative approaches to meet the needs of job seekers and employers, fostering harmonious collaboration between them.


The interdisciplinary nature of the units within CWIS that address various workforce needs combined with the unique connection to the W.E. Upjohn Institute positions CWIS to create greater impact on Southwest Michigan’s workforce system.

CWIS' origin dates to 1971, when along with the city and county of Kalamazoo, the Upjohn Institute helped plan, implement and administer a local employment program, created by the federal Emergency Employment Act. The program provided funding to finance job opportunities in local public service and nonprofit agencies for unemployed and disadvantaged workers. In 1974, the Institute’s participation evolved into the Employment Management Services Division to administer job training programs funded under federal and state government legislation. In 2021, EMSD rebranded as the Center for Workforce Innovation and Solutions, expanding its scope to a broader focus that includes a range of programs including the Employer Resource Network, Neighborhood Employment Hubs, and Pulse.