It is no secret that today's employers are looking for individuals that already posses the skills required for their duties when they are hired. Although this seems reasonable from the perspective of college students, all studying specific majors in order to be prepared for their desired career, it can be very troublesome for adults switching careers later in life. Many workers set out to acquire new marketable skills with the expectation that doing so will lead to re-employment, higher pay or more job security. This can be a result of a lay-off, search of higher pay, or any other financial reason that might cause someone to re-enter the workforce. Furthermore, the decision to get trained in new skills is often made more than 10 years after graduation from high school.
In most cases, for people to get new skills and switch industries they must return or enter some form of secondary schooling. Unfortunately, Michigan has the 6th most exepsnive public universities in the nation. FAFSA (college financial aid) filings for people over the age of 30 have fallen by nearly 33% since 2011. This is largely due to the state legislature having eliminated four grants that provided financial aid to adult learners. The Michigan League for Public Policy published a paper advocating for the State to bring back two such grants, the Part-Time Independent Study Grant and the Work-Study Program. The first is a simply grant for adult learners, while the second would provide lower-income older students with academically-relevant work at a livable wage.
I have a few questions for the caucus regarding this issue:
Do we think that the State should move funding towards grants and other programs for adult learners?
Should this issue be ignored for now as we have such mounting problems with loan debt for college-aged students?
If implemented, should the state divert existing funding from FAFSA to these programs or raise additional funding through some other medium?
Thanks and I look forward to hearing your thoughts!