Capital News Service

of the Michigan State University School of Journalism

State money targets job training in Central Michiagn

By CHANTAL COOK
Capital News Service

LANSING – A grant for training unemployed and underemployed workers will add $500,000 to the Central Area Michigan Works! Consortium budget.

The No Worker Left Behind (NWLB) program started in 2007 as an initiative to increase the number of workers for high-demand jobs in energy, health care and engineering.

The consortium serves Gratiot, Ionia, Isabella and Montcalm counties.

The grant was requested by Michigan Works! to train workers and help them find jobs.

Eligible NWLB participants receive $10,000 over two years for education, plus other support for any unemployed or underemployed worker willing to study for a degree or certificate leading to a high-demand job.

Janet Bloomfield, vice president for employment training for the consortium, said more training needs to be funded, but realizes the state has many priorities.

“Money from the federal government is inadequate to serve the needs,” said Bloomfield.

“We are in a position as a country with a lot of priorities and we do as much as we can but recognize other competing services,” she said

In the last 18 months, 62,000 people enrolled in long-term training, 34,000 completed training and 24,699 found jobs statewide, according to the NWLB Outcomes Report.

“We have to focus on jobs that exist and are going to exist,” said John Groen, communication representative for the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth.

Groen said Michigan Works! is involved with the green jobs initiative, along with the Michigan Academy of Green Mobility, to build skills.

Michigan Works! reaches out to Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Chrysler to see what they need in engineering support. For example, colleges like Wayne State University and Michigan Technological University train people in hybrid and electrical engineering.

The $6 million Green Jobs Initiative investment is designed to increase the number of green industries and businesses, develop green education and training programs, invest in worker education and training, and support urban renewal by creating green jobs and training opportunities, according to a state Green Jobs Initiative report.

“The focus is to give people the skills to get a job or career to help provide for their family long-term,” Groen said.

Michigan Works! has 25 agencies around the state funded through state grants.

Robert Spohr, interim vice president for academics affairs at Montcalm Community College, said the competition for jobs is high. The college and Michigan Works! are focused on training job-seekers to attract companies to hire them full-time.

Employers are too worried right now to hire people, Spohr said.

“They are only hiring temps and part-time workers and waiting to see what the job market is going to look like,” said Spohr.

© 2010, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.

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