Michigan workforce development and education leaders, more than in any other state, are in a tough spot: No matter how creative they get in retraining the state’s out-of-work residents, there are few jobs to be had.
That theme comes through clearly in National Public Radio’s terrific recent story on Michigan’s workforce development efforts. NPR profiled the state’s “No Worker Left Behind” program, which gives unemployed workers up to $10,000 for two years of retraining in high-demand fields at a community college, university, or qualified training center.
Faced with the worst unemployment rate in the country, leaders in Michigan launched an ambitious initiative to retrain more than 100,000 workers. The No Worker Left Behind program has had success getting laid-off auto workers and others into programs where they learn new skills. But getting those workers into new jobs has proven much more challenging, in part because it’s incredibly hard to predict where the jobs of the future will be in a state where jobs of any kind are in such short supply.
As of the end of April, 126,903 people in the state had enrolled in training through No Worker Left Behind, according to a state fact sheet. But as NPR points out, only 40% of those who went through training found jobs related to their programs. (More outcomes from No Worker Left Behind can be found in this state report.)
At issue is this: Often the “in-demand” industries that displaced workers begin to pursue are not in need of new workers a year or two later — or never were in need of an infusion of freshly trained workers. John Warner, a 60-year-old Macomb Community College student, summed it up well in the NPR piece: “It’s kind of a tough thing, I think, to figure out here in Michigan exactly what’s going to fly and what isn’t.”
All this boils down to the critical need for educators and workforce developers to have good business feedback — and the most accurate and up-to-date regional employment data at their disposal, so they can share the information with workers who want to make the best career decisions.
EMSI’s data and tools have helped hundreds of community colleges, workforce boards, and other agencies give their regions an advantage. (Our case study page is full of client success stories like this one from south central Michigan).