Community Colleges and Jobs

Community colleges have apparently not been helped dramatically by money for job retraining. According to an article by Marisa Schultz in the Detroit News:

When Gov. Jennifer Granholm launched the No Worker Left Behind program in August 2007, she stood alongside the presidents of the state’s community colleges, which were to be the proving grounds for the massive effort to transform Michigan’s economy.

But nearly three years into the program, fewer than 1 in 3 of the displaced workers have chosen two-year public colleges, which already are at or near capacity with recent high school graduates who can’t afford, can’t meet standards at or chose not to attend four-year universities.

Community colleges are potentially great places to retrain unemployed workers for high-wage jobs. But realistically it doesn’t look like this is happening.

The trouble is that community colleges, at least in Michigan, don’t have the capacity to absorb all the Workers Left Behind. And so the unemployed, increasingly, flock to for-profit schools.

As a public policy issue, by refusing to expand community colleges, in effect we are inefficiently allocating public dollars.

That’s according to James Jacobs, president of Macomb Community College, who admittedly is a little biased in the matter. Still, he’s got a point. Unemployment is a public policy problem. It’s odd public, community colleges, don’t seem to help.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer