How the MCCC can help Michigan reach 60 by 30

Kojo A.Quartey

Educational attainment is critically important in the economic development equation. In fact, it’s so important that it’s one of the top three variables in the International Human Development Index (HDI). The other two are life expectancy and gross national income (GNI). More on the HDI at another time. In this article, I focus on the impact of education on local and state economies.

Michigan has set a goal of “60 by 30”: “By 2030, 60 percent of working-age Michiganders will have a college certificate or degree. Michigan will be a talent leader – fueling the future workforce and providing opportunities for all. This is the vision of post-secondary degrees of economic value for 60% of Michiganders by 2030. This is an ambitious goal for Michigan being that we are currently at 45.5%, compared to the national average 48%, and if we continue on this trajectory we will only be at 52% in 2030. However, economists say that 65% is the “ideal achievement rate for competitive success”.

Why post-secondary education?

Post-secondary education refers to any degree beyond high school, including professional and military degrees. Post-secondary success is important for many reasons, including, but not limited to: meeting labor market demands and changes in the economy, economic independence in a knowledge-based economy, public good for society and individuals, social justice, social mobility and equity. In addition, according to the College Board, better-educated residents are more likely to: earn a higher salary, be employed, receive benefits from their employer, vote, volunteer, exercise, send their children in school ready to succeed, less likely to live in poverty or be incarcerated, and participate in public assistance. Education is just a good thing for society.

How to get to 60 out of 30?

There are several statewide programs to help Michigan get into ages 60 through 30. They have community colleges at their core.

A future for frontliners: Free classes at Michigan community colleges for anyone working in frontline industries. Very comprehensive list from agriculture to zoology. It started in 2020 and 28,000 Michiganders took advantage of it.

IM Reconnect: free community college tuition for anyone 25 and older without a college degree. This program is ongoing and 92,000 Michiganders have taken advantage of it.

Michigan College Access Network: Communities form Local College Access Networks (LCANs) to boost university attendance and reduce the equity gap. Efforts are underway to reestablish the LCAN in Monroe.

Detroit leads the degrees (DDD) is a collective regional impact initiative led by the Detroit Chamber, aimed at improving the talent pool in Southeast Michigan with four areas of focus: improving access to post-secondary opportunities to achieve target 60 by 30; stimulate student success; retaining local talent and attracting new talent; and closing the racial equity gap. Monroe is now part of the compact DDD.

Michigan New Jobs Training Program (MNJTP): Designed as an incentive for economic development, the MNJTP authorizes community colleges to create a training pool to support employers who create or expand new jobs and operations in Michigan. The training of newly hired workers is paid for by collecting state income tax. Contracts are local agreements between an employer and the community college. There are no restrictions on the type of training provided, size of employer or industries served. It is a very flexible tool, focused on meeting the training needs of any employer creating new jobs that pays at least 175% of the state minimum wage. Over the past 10 years, $42,421,313 in income tax withholdings have been cumulatively diverted to support all existing MNJTP contracts entered into since 2009. To date, there are 23,996 new contract jobs for existing MNJTP agreements.

For Michigan to reach Sixty within 30 years, all communities must do their part, including Monroe County. Education is key to many of our societal challenges, so let’s take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way. Education is the cure for ignorance, the cure for poverty, the key to success, the roadmap to prosperity, and the ticket to the middle class – the items pictured in my education box, which you have perhaps seen during my monologue on my MPACT TV show, “Education Questions.” Education really matters!

Kojo A. Quartey, Ph.D. is president of Monroe County Community College and an economist. It can be attached to [email protected].

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