In Leaving No Worker Behind, Jobs for the Future analyzes how five community colleges implemented Michigan’s program to train unemployed workers and other low-skilled adults for high-demand jobs. No Worker Left Behind encourages adults to sign up for two years of education and training, usually at a community college. The state covers up to $5,000 a year for tuition, fees and books and provides child-care subsidies and transportation allowances.
From its start in 2007 through 2010, more than 150,000 adults enrolled in NWLB-financed training; more were steered to Pell Grants. Some 59 percent of participants found a new job after completing their training.
The five colleges in the study developed programs for older workers, strengthened basic literacy and numeracy, updated computer skills and instilled confidence in adults who doubted their ability to succeed in college.
Most dislocated workers lacked literacy and numeracy skills. Colleges tried to integrate basic-skills instruction with preparation for college-level vocational training, but “rarely redesigned an entire program” to meet the needs of dislocated workers.
For the future, the study recommends:
>>Reward collaborative relationships between community colleges and Workforce Investment Boards.
>>Target benefits to adults with low basic skills.
>>Support a shift in the Adult Basic Education system to support postsecondary transitions.
>>Develop a common understanding of college readiness among workforce and higher education systems.
Due to the limitations of Michigan’s data systems, it’s impossible to say whether NWLB substantially increased college access or employment, the study concluded.