IN THIS ISSUE:
The training needed to succeed in the global economy
September 15, 2009
August marked the beginning of year three for No Worker Left Behind – the final year of the governor’s signature initiative with the goal of entering 100,000 people into training for in-demand jobs in the 21st century economy.
Results from the first two years have exceeded expectations by a long shot.
So far, we are on pace to obliterate our original goal. At the end of year two, we have put 88,691 Michiganders into training for in-demand jobs. That’s 89 percent of our three-year goal!
What is more, the pace of workers entering training through No Worker Left Behind programs is accelerating. Every month of year two had a higher enrollment than the same month in year one.
It is also clear that education institutions have responded positively to No Worker Left Behind by adding or updating an average of 64 percent more educational programs in the last two years compared to the year before NWLB began.
The enormous public interest in No Worker Left Behind continues to increase. There
Thanks to everyone who is helping make NWLB a success. We should all be proud that Michigan, which faces by far the greatest unemployment crisis of any state, leads the nation in offering unemployed workers broad access to free tuition and supports to train for new careers.
For a long time, Denise Mozal was a mortgage form designer at VMP Mortgage Solutions. In 2005, VMP Mortgage Solutions, like many other mortgage companies, faced difficult economic times due to the housing slowdown that occurred in Michigan (and eventually spread nationally) according to Mozal. The company decided to close its Michigan office in 2005 and Mozal found herself without a job.
Mozal decided to use this challenge as an opportunity to pursue more education that would lead to a better job. Despite nervousness about the large undertaking going back to school represented, she utilized No Worker Left Behind funding to enroll in the legal assistant program at Macomb Community College.
“Going back to school after almost 30 years showed my children that no one is too old for education and that we can change careers at any point in our lives,” Mozal observed.
Not only did Mozal graduate, but she was recognized as the “Most Distinguished Macomb Graduate of 2008” and delivered the commencement speech at graduation (you can view it here).
She was able to use her advanced education to become a technical author at Tweddle Group, an owner’s manual producer, and because of her education she was able to receive a substantial pay raise from her previous occupation.
‘The NWLB program is a gift. Utilizing this gift will improve a person's life and lifestyle, for themselves and their family,” she said.
“I am a strong believer that training is a critical component to success in today’s ever-changing business environment,” observes Omega Plastics President Jeff Kaczperski.
Omega Plastics, a Clinton Township firm operating since 1994, is a world leader in tooling and injection molding solutions for prototype and low-volume production applications. According to Kaczperski, Omega Plastics provides specialized manufacturing solutions that are designed to help clients avoid many of the financial, manufacturing, and market-entry challenges that often arise when launching a new product.
“While custom solutions are important in maximizing results, equally important is the fact that Omega delivers these solutions through a highly collaborative team approach,” explains Kaczperski. “Market studies have shown that companies working collaboratively prior to and during the prototype phase of a project show double digit improvement in both cost reduction and delivery speed. The team at Omega knows this, believes it, and works every day to live it out in tangible ways for our clients.”
It’s no secret that many companies in Michigan have struggled in recent years. One of the strategies that Omega Plastics used to prosper in this tough economy is to utilize No Worker Left Behind to provide well-trained and qualified employees.
Kaczperski believes that other Michigan companies can gain benefits similar to those Omega Plastics experienced.
“Some organizations may assume that such a program requires a lot of time and attention (cost) to put in place and operate. That simply has not been our experience,” comments Kaczperski. “The people administering the program have been good to work with and documentation has been minimal. I would strongly recommend that companies look into this program to see how it may support their business plan.”
Omega Plastics is very optimistic about its future and one of the many reasons why is No Worker Left Behind.
“In five years, I envision the organization to have grown significantly in both revenues and capabilities while developing a reputation for being the most effective team to bring new products to market and to serve the manufacturing needs of niche markets,” concludes Kaczperski. “To do this, it requires sound strategies and skilled people….and the No Worker Left Behind program provides the training that helps this become a reality.”
From its inception, NWLB has been so popular that most lost local Michigan Works! Agencies have not had enough money to put everyone interested into training right away. The Q & A section below brings everyone up to date on the current status of Michigan’s groundbreaking worker training program.
Q. What’s the current status of Michigan’s No Worker Left Behind initiative?
A. No Worker Left Behind is going strong. In the initiative’s first two years (August 1, 2007 – July 31, 2009), 88,691 Michigan workers went back to school through this program. We expect enrollment this fall semester to be bigger than ever. No Worker Left Behind is causing everything about worker retraining to accelerate in Michigan. Thirty-five percent more workers enrolled in the program’s second year than in the first, and educational institutions added or updated 29 percent more programs. In July, President Obama chose Michigan to announce his new community college initiative and cited No Worker Left Behind as a model for the nation.
Q. I heard No Worker Left Behind is out of money. Is that so?
A. No Worker Left Behind is not out of money. Funds available for the program’s first year were $87,746,598; for the second year projection $162,427,344; and our current projections for the third year are $127,648,240. We are far from done obtaining funds for the third year, which is just beginning. In the end, we expect that total funding for year three will equal or exceed funding for year two.
On June 25, Michigan applied to the U.S. Department of Labor for $58M for three Regional Economic Impact National Emergency Grants for regions centered on Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids. Some of the funds just announced for advanced battery work will help train workers, and we are pursuing aggressively American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars available on a competitive basis for green jobs ($500M nationally), health care and other high demand occupations ($250M), etc. Every year DELEG has been able to secure extra funds for No Worker Left Behind, and we expect 2009-2010 to be no exception.
Several MWAs are putting so many workers into training that they are getting to the point where all of their current funds are spoken for. However, they will all continue to put people on waiting lists as we seek new funds to expand the program.
Various MWAs have had waiting lists for No Worker Left Behind for much of the last two years. Overall, 9,108 Michiganders were on waiting lists at the end of July. Since 5,348 of those people were waiting for training to start, the list may decrease somewhat as people begin training in the fall semester. August and September represent our biggest enrollment period of the year. Waiting lists may increase again after that.
Q. Are all MWAs facing a funding crunch, or only some?
A. The funding situation is quite varied among the 25 MWAs. None have actually spent all available funds. Southeast Michigan Community Alliance (SEMCA), which covers Monroe County and Wayne County besides Detroit and a few others have “obligated” almost all current funds to put people into training, meaning all of their funds from the current program year and from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are tied to particular workers who are in or about to enter training. Most MWAs are not in this situation. DELEG is working to obtain additional targeted funding to assist the areas facing the greatest crunch.
Q. Has the No Worker Left Behind program been suspended; is it ending?
A. Far from it! Not only is No Worker Left Behind not ending, it is accelerating (as noted above) and becoming a factor in national policy. Obama Administration officials and congressional staff members who are working on reauthorization of the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) consult with DELEG regularly. They want to incorporate the lessons of No Worker Left Behind into the new version of WIA, the nation’s primary workforce law, which is overdue for an update.
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