TRAVERSE CITY — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder today announced a program designed to get young people excited about the auto industry.

“The auto industry is on a roll,” Snyder said at the 2015 CAR Management Briefing Seminars. But the top priority is talent to sustain it.

“We need to take a leadership position on this,” he said of the need to attract and retain both students and those already in the workforce.

The initiative is called “We Run on Brainpower” and the governor introduced it with a video highlighting the skills used in today’s auto industry – from design to manufacturing. “All those skills are required to make a vehicle.”

More videos will be made including a series of “day in the life” with people in the industry showing what they do and also why they decided to pursue an automotive job.

Snyder said the downturn discouraged people from pursuing the industry. “It was a difficult decade. A lot of people lost jobs. But it is time to get back in the industry again.”

Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automotive Research said the industry is not in danger of shutting down for lack of talent, but growth is limited over the long term.

“Young people don’t see the auto industry as sexy and their parents who lived through the cycles don’t want it for their kids,” Dziczek said. But the sector offers a chance to work with the latest technology, work in teams, address global issues and societal challenges which should appeal to job seekers.

The goal is to get young people excited about an industry that is now delving into autonomous cars, as well.

“We should be the center of intelligent vehicles,” Snyder said. He says Michigan rivals and perhaps exceeds Silicon Valley as a global innovation center with the highest concentration of engineers, designers and IT specialists, but the state has not done a good job of marketing that fact, which is something the ongoing “Brainpower” campaign will try to address.

The governor plans to attend the Frankfurt auto show this year to continue to promote Michigan as the industry leader.

The program will be directed by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and is designed to be an integrated communications program to raise awareness of the jobs offered in the auto sector.

A 2014 career study by MICHAuto found 41% of influences are likely to recommend a job in the automotive industry.

“We need the talent that’s out there to realize that Michigan is a place where you can seriously grow your career and that it’s a pretty great place to live,” said Kevin Kerrigan, senior vice president of the MEDC’s Automotive Office.

The state also created a new department last year to address the need for tech and highly skilled personnel.

“I’m not walking away from auto or manufacturing at all,” Snyder said. “I’m embracing it.”

On another topic, Snyder said he is still working on a deal to repair Michigan roads. A conference call with legislative leaders last week was constructive and more discussions are planned this month.

Contact Alisa Priddle: 313-222-5394 or Follow her on Twitter @AlisaPriddle