A new website to find schools is announced as more Michiganders look for work, consider job changes, or monitor a big infrastructure jobs bill.
The Biden administration is making changes at the US departments of Education and Labor aimed at finding new work for the unemployed, and those changes could make a splash in Michigan.
Michigan added 31,000 non-farm jobs in July, and its unemployment rate dipped to 4.8% during that period. The national average is 5.4%.
“Michigan’s job numbers are headed in the right direction. Our unemployment rate is below the national average and businesses are staffing up fast,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in the announcement. “Despite our seven months of decreasing unemployment, however, we still have a lot of work left to do to help every family, community, and small business participate in our economic jumpstart.”
The federal initiative comes as unemployment remains high around the country due to the pandemic, a record number of people contemplate career changes, and federal lawmakers debate a bill that would create new jobs related to rebuilding and expanding the nation’s infrastructure.
The Department of Education (DOE) has set up a new website that lets people search for federally supported workforce training and education programs. Prominent Michigan schools, including Oakland University and Northern Michigan University, as well as community colleges around the state are covered on the website, which reflects schools that accept federal Pell Grants and have eligible workforce training programs.
The DOE is updating its guidance for how financial aid administrators can help newly unemployed people get more financial aid. The US Department of Labor (DOL) is meanwhile involved in efforts to bolster job training by alerting state workforce agencies that unemployment insurance recipients are usually eligible for federal student aid.
A study completed by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that eligible individuals who received information about Pell Grant student aid were 40% more likely to enroll in a postsecondary program.
“I am heartened that through these changes, the US departments of Education and Labor are helping unemployed Americans have the chance to go back to school, gain new knowledge and skills, and access opportunity through higher education,” said US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in a statement. “These efforts will go a long way toward expanding the middle class, growing the economy, and helping individuals lead thriving lives and support their families, as our nation continues to recover from the effects of the pandemic.”
The state continues to pursue new and nontraditional career entryways for residents, as The ‘Gander has reported. Michigan recently landed a federal award for apprenticeship expansions in the state, and was one of five states to receive the maximum award from the DOL.
Registered apprenticeships are programs in which apprentices work for pay at the same time as they train for a nationally respected accreditation in a skilled position. Once the programs are complete, apprentices become full-time employees at the company, usually without owing any tuition.
Apprenticeships, job training programs, and college enrollment are all pillars of Michigan’s Sixty by 30 goal, which sets the trajectory for 60% of working-age adults in Michigan to have a skill certificate or college degree by 2030.
“Right now, we have an unprecedented opportunity to use the massive influx of federal funds we have received to make tangible, lasting investments in the kitchen-table issues that impact Michigan families and small businesses most—childcare, skills training, job creation, housing and more,” Whitmer said.
If President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passes Congress, it could add to an already-high demand for new workers—with estimates of 650,000 to 1 million new jobs created in everything from roads and bridges to high-speed internet, clean water delivery, the energy grid, and a larger network of charging stations for electric vehicles.