Macomb Community College is jubilant over the receipt of a $24.9 million federal grant awarded for job training that U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Shelby Township, helped obtain.
The U.S. Department of Labor grant reportedly will help give students the needed skills to fill advanced manufacturing jobs that have been vacant because of a lack of qualified applicants.
Certainly, such jobs are badly needed in Michigan. But the grant also prompts a couple of bottom line questions: Is the money well spent or are there job training alternatives that donít involve taxpayer funds? And just how successful are such grants in actually finding unemployed workers good paying jobs?
Supporters of the Macomb grant and other similar grants give glowing reports and have impressive objectives for the money.
Specifically, the most recent grant will support the Macomb-led Michigan community college Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing (M-CAM) project, which is supposed to provide educational opportunities for students at Macomb Community College and seven other community colleges across the state.
Macomb will receive $9.6 million, with the balance divided among the other community colleges.
The four-year program has lofty goals. A total of 2,738 students are expected to participate in the grant program with 1,619 completing the course work and finding employment.
But extensive studies, many of them ironically funded by the federal government, conclude the money is not making a difference in the job market.
David Muhlhausen, research fellow in empirical policies for the Heritage Foundation, based in Washington D.C., says research, using rigorous standards, concludes that job training programs donít work.
Although earning a job program certificate may add to an individualís credentials, he says the income of those who participate in a program is no higher than the salary of those who donít.
ďWeíre spending a lot of money on these job training programs and there is no evidence that shows these programs work,Ē Muhlhausen says.