Chamber Supports Initiative to Narrow the Skills Gap, Increase Workforce Readiness

April 22, 2019

Chamber members across the state are struggling to find skilled workers to fill critical jobs and grow their businesses. That’s why the Michigan Chamber joined Governor Whitmer and leaders from around the state and across the aisle last week to voice support for legislation to address Michigan’s talent gap.

The proposed Michigan Reconnect and Opportunity Scholarships are intended to narrow the skills gap and increase workforce and post-secondary readiness. The programs are focused on providing post-secondary opportunities (e.g., skills certifications, community college, etc.) for individuals currently in the workforce who need to be “upskilled” as well as students graduating from high school.

The Reconnect and Opportunity Scholarship proposals are built around a plan that is focused on creating pathways for all students, regardless of income, to get the skills or education they need to land a good paying job. The Governor’s proposal is a “last-dollar” plan, meaning all other student aid must first be exhausted, including Pell grants and other student assistance awards. The Governor has pledged to fund her proposal with no increases in taxes or fees and has pledged to do so by reallocating existing workforce training funding. 

We believe Governor Whitmer’s plan is a good starting point but, to be truly successful and a good use of state dollars, it should be fiscally responsible and student-focused. To achieve these desired results, we will be advocating that the proposal should focus more on accountability and student support, demand more student ownership in the program and require tuition restraint by the programs delivering the education.

Please contact Wendy Block with any questions at wblock@michamber.com.