Bipartisan plan creates the Michigan Reconnect grant program
State Rep. Matt Hall (R-Marshall) today cast his vote to approve a bipartisan plan establishing 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.
Hall said the House’s vote – 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.
“The single-largest barrier to economic growth that job providers across Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties have communicated to me is the lack of a skilled workforce,” Hall said. “It is in the state’s best interest to help our residents learn the skills they need to get one of the tens of thousands of jobs available right now in the trades. Michigan Reconnect is going to ensure our state has the talented workforce needed to grow Michigan’s future. These careers are not only high-demand – they are also high-paying and highly sustainable.”
By 2026, Michigan is expected to have an estimated 545,000 job openings in sectors such as information technology and computer science, manufacturing, automotive, health care and other professional trades. Hall 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.
“Skilled-trade jobs play an enormous role in our state’s economy, and it is critically important that Michigan residents have opportunities to learn the skills they need to find gainful employment and provide for their families,” Hall said. “Workforce development programs like Michigan Reconnect and Going PRO are great investments that cultivate an environment for Michigan’s economy to evolve and expand.”
The legislation 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.