Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Friday defended the No Worker Left Behind job training program, saying the initiative she launched in 2007 is successful.
"Michigan's No Worker Left Behind program is a national model for job training," Granholm said in her weekly radio address Friday. "Despite funding challenges from the federal government, the program will continue training workers for 21st-century jobs, and will help us transition to the new Michigan economy."
The $500 million program, unveiled in August 2007, pays up to $10,000 in tuition to laid-off and underemployed workers to study high-demand fields. The program was designed to give workers a free shot at education and skills to transition from the assembly line to growing fields like green jobs, information technology and health care. The state announced this week that due to a lack of federal funding, the program will be largely limited to those already in school or on waiting lists.
The Detroit News reported in a two-part series this week 16,100, or 53 percent, of the people who completed schooling found work, while more than 14,600 dropped out and another 14,500 completed their training but are jobless.
Another 27,000 people had jobs, but employers used program money for on-the-job training.
Experts told The News results weren't what they would expect, but it may be too early to judge the program given Michigan's struggling economy. The state's jobless rate led the nation for four years, but now trails Nevada's.
In her address, Granholm interpreted the state's figures to say 75 percent of those who finished the program have either obtained or retained jobs. In counting only the core program population -- those who are unemployed and underemployed -- she said 59 percent found new jobs.
"That's an amazing statistic, especially when you consider there was a recently issued report from Rutgers University showing that nationwide, only 21 percent of those who were unemployed and looking for work had found a job," Granholm said. The Rutgers study, reported in The News, looked at the status of 1,200 long-term unemployed workers.