House overwhelmingly approves bipartisan plan for Michigan Reconnect
State Rep. Ben Frederick today led the Michigan House in approving a bipartisan plan to establish a new grant program aimed at helping people age 25 and older learn the skills they need to land well-paying, in-demand jobs with growing Michigan businesses.
Frederick, of Owosso, said the House’s vote today – combined with $35 million in funding set aside in a supplemental budget measure approved earlier this week – is a significant step forward for the Michigan Reconnect grant program.
“Michigan Reconnect has the potential to change lives all across our state,” Frederick said. “It’s going to help remove the biggest barrier that prevents adults from going back to school or entering an occupational training program to gain the skills they need to advance their careers and better their lives.”
Frederick said Michigan is expected to have an estimated 545,000 job openings by 2026 in sectors such as information technology and computer science, manufacturing, automotive, health care and other professional trades. He said Michigan Reconnect, when combined with the existing Going PRO initiative – which provides training to enhance skills and talent of Michigan’s workforce through completive grants to employers – will go a long way toward addressing the talent gap that currently exists in Michigan.
“There are tens of thousands of job postings right now for good, high-paying positions with Michigan businesses,” Frederick said. “If we can get residents the training they need to earn those jobs, it’s a win for everyone. It benefits the people who will be taking home more in their hard-earned paychecks, it boosts our state economy and it helps close the skills gap to make Michigan even more attractive to job providers.”
The legislation Frederick sponsored alongside Rep. Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing, lays out the eligibility criteria for adults ages 25 and older to earn an associate’s degree or industry-recognized certificate tuition-free. It also creates the Reconnect Private Training Learning Initiative that provides a $1,500 grant for students to attend eligible private training programs.
Reconnect would be a “last-dollar” grant – which means all other state and federal student aid other than student loans must be applied before the Reconnect Grant. The average Reconnect Grant is estimated to be approximately $1,100 per student.
House Bills 5576 and 5580 now advance to the Senate for further consideration.