tylerstarLast year lawmakers voted to allow employers that are interested in locating or expanding operations in Michigan to work with local community colleges to set up job training programs through which new employees can learn new skills.

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Tyler's Take: Change will boost jobs training program

Published 2:11pm Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Under the Michigan New Jobs Training Program, a community college such as Southwestern Michigan or Lake Michigan Community College can set up a specific training program geared toward the needs of the employer, the cost of which is repaid by the eventual increase in income taxes from the jobs created.

When the program was initially set up, the law was written so only employers that pay their workers at least 175 percent of the state minimum wage qualify for assistance.  The idea, of course, was to make sure that the state encouraged the creation of good-paying jobs.

Unfortunately, it now seems lawmakers set the bar too high and as a result participation rates in the program have been less than stellar.

Last week, the House Education Committee, of which I am a member, approved legislation to lower the salary threshold to 150 percent of the federal minimum wage, which will make it easier for companies interested in locating or expanding in our area to apply for the program.  The legislation is now awaiting a vote by the full House.

Several lawmakers argued against this bill, saying that we should reserve help only for companies that are going to bring high-paying jobs to the area.

And while I certainly understand their argument, my feeling is that I’d rather have modest-paying jobs over no jobs at all.  Michigan lost 285,000 jobs last year and has had the highest unemployment rate in the nation for more than four years in a row.  Clearly we need to do more to help improve the jobs situation.

Changing the threshold to make more companies eligible will make Michigan more able to compete for jobs against Indiana.  It will bring jobs to our area and give unemployed workers a chance to learn new skills.

I look forward to hearing your comments on these important issues.  Please feel free to contact me by calling (888) 373-0078 or e-mailing sharontyler@house.mi. gov.

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