- Davenport University, in Michigan, is offering laid-off hourly and salaried General Motors (GM) workers $8,000 toward a degree or access to discounted professional development courses, according to the Detroit Free Press.
- The university, which saw its enrollment fall by roughly one-third from 2011 to 2015, said workers can obtain the funds within two years of expected GM plant closures in 2019. The company announced last month that it plans to shutter three assembly and two transmission plants by the end of next year, putting some 6,200 jobs in jeopardy. Of that number, more than 1,500 are in the Detroit area.
- Participants can use the scholarship toward degrees in business, health professions and technology, or get a 20% discount on professional development courses. They can receive the funding until graduation. Davenport is also offering free career services including career assessments, workshops and transition help.
Such programs have been undertaken in other regions in response to layoffs, but retraining efforts tend to earn mixed reviews.
Several state university systems and community colleges have offered free or reduced tuition to displaced workers. The University of Wyoming's College of Engineering and Applied Science, for example, has offered out-of-work coal industry employees the opportunity to pursue an engineering or related degree at UW or community colleges with a $1,500 scholarship.
And to help coal workers in Virginia, community colleges there received a nearly $2 million grant from the federal government in 2016 to provide reemployment services for coal industry workers. Virginia has been successful at several levels in providing workforce training.
And communities are often more responsive. In Moses Lake, Washington, where a Takata plant was laying off workers earlier this year, a rapid response group immediately held a meeting to connect workers with training and other supports, including at area colleges.
Earlier this year, The Atlantic pointed out that 90% of manufacturing jobs have disappeared since 2000 due to automation and trade policies, and that retraining programs have struggled to fill the gap for several reasons. Among them, rapid changes in industry are causing similar shifts in the skills needed; licensing requirements can discourage people from entering new fields; workers experience delays between when they end their old job and start new training; and many workers don't want to go back to school, the conduit for many retraining initiatives.