Where’s the Outlet? The Continuing Disconnect Between Training and Jobs


Have you received your No Worker Left Behind Training dollars yet? If you have been able to jump through the many hoops and wait for months and months for the federal program to catch up, then consider yourself one of the lucky ones.

I have heard too many horror stories about people applying for this program, only to learn that the money has run out or that they need to prove that they will have a job after they receive the desired training. The lack of funding is easy to understand, since so many people are in great need of programs like this. The post-training job requirement is another story.

It seems like there is a giant disconnect in Michigan. Agencies are working to get people retrained for jobs but they have little or no ability to provide career transition support once the training is complete. On the flip side, industries that are hiring have little say in the quality and focus of the training that will impact their businesses. MichiganWorks! Agencies were not designed to train people in new fields or to hire people directly for new employment. They are at the mercy of other affiliate learning organizations, colleges and universities to develop targeted retraining programs rapidly to support the immediate need for emerging business sectors.

Employers have little to do with this jumbled equation. They are focused on rebuilding their infrastructure and setting a new course for growth and prosperity in southeastern Michigan. They need qualified employee candidates emerging from these retraining programs immediately. So what constitutes a “qualified” employee candidate?

That is the billion dollar question that no one has answered yet.

Perhaps new criteria and metrics need around worker qualifications need to be established with involvement from all parties; government, business and non-profits. Maybe businesses should get some federal dollars to develop training themselves with the promise of employment once training is complete?

Whatever the formula, the truth remains that when businesses skills align with training, we can then begin to rebuild the workforce through meaningful hiring; more targeted employment opportunities and renewed economic growth. It’s time for every to plug in and energize this workforce.

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