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ERIC Number: ED519799
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-May
Pages: 43
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Leaving No Worker Behind: Community Colleges Retrain the Michigan Workforce--and Themselves
Hilliard, Tom
Jobs for the Future
In 2007, Michigan undertook a bold mission: to retrain tens of thousands of adults to qualify for jobs in emerging and expanding sectors of the economy. The state's proposal to jobless, dislocated, and low-income residents was simple but appealing: enroll in up to two years of postsecondary education, and Michigan would cover up to $5,000 in tuition, fees, and books each year, along with related supports such as child care subsidies and transportation assistance. Michigan rolled out "No Worker Left Behind" in August 2007 and stuck with it in the face of budgetary crises and ongoing economic deterioration. The target population has responded in large numbers. More than 150,000 adults enrolled in NWLB-financed training by the end of 2010, and many more were steered to Pell Grants. To explore the role of NWLB in strengthening the student success infrastructure of Michigan community colleges, Jobs for the Future (JFF) studied five institutions with a strong track record of innovation to begin to answer these critical questions: (1) How have colleges organized their efforts to assist low-skilled adults in gaining marketable postsecondary credentials?; and (2) What role has No Worker Left Behind played in the ability of Michigan community colleges to develop innovative strategies for serving this population? JFF conducted detailed interviews with presidents, vice-presidents, and managerial staff of Grand Rapids Community College, Lake Michigan College, Mott Community College, Macomb Community College, and Northwestern Michigan College. The NWLB experiences of the case-study colleges provide valuable lessons for policymakers in Michigan and elsewhere about promoting innovation to increase student success, particularly for lower-skilled, dislocated workers: (1) Reward collaborative relationships between community colleges and Workforce Investment Boards; (2) Target benefits to adults with low basic skills; (3) Support a shift in the Adult Basic Education system to support postsecondary transitions; and (4) Develop a common understanding of college readiness among workforce and higher education systems. A final, critical lesson is the need to strengthen data systems and analysis. Because of data limitations in Michigan, it is impossible to say whether the NWLB strategy substantially increased college access or to compare the success of NWLB-financed students to other students. A uniform, effective system of data collection and analysis is critical to inform and drive better policymaking and institutional decisions. No Worker Left Behind Training Funds Allocations and Projections, FY 2007 to 2010 (Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth) is appended. (Contains 2 tables and 11 endnotes.
Jobs for the Future. 88 Broad Street 8th Floor, Boston, MA 02110. Tel: 617-728-4446; Fax: 617-728-4857; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Adult Basic Education; Adult Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Jobs for the Future
Identifiers - Location: Michigan
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Pell Grant Program