Boosting the Skills of Older Workers for New Manufacturing Careers

This video and research brief highlight how eight Michigan community colleges participating in the Michigan Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing (M-CAM), a round 3 TAACCCT grantee, successfully engaged older adults in advanced manufacturing training and helped them transition to new jobs and careers in that sector. The colleges enrolled over 1200 older students, most of whom were attending college for the first time. Key findings:

  • Older students were more likely to complete their programs and earn a credential than were younger students and only slightly less likely to obtain employment upon exit.
  • Older students who had difficulty finding work were often career changers, who were seeking to transition to manufacturing careers from other sectors.
  • If hired, older students were retained in employment at rates similar to or higher than those of younger students.
  • They valued and benefited from the extra support that colleges offered, including assistance enrolling in and accessing financial aid, integration of basic skills support into core manufacturing curricula, and wraparound supports.

Boosting the Skills of Older Workers for New Manufacturing Careers: Michigan’s M-CAM Experience

Cover of M-CAM ES This brief explores the experiences of older workers who enrolled in advanced manufacturing training programs, drawing on data from over 1200 older students enrolled at eight community colleges in Michigan over a three-year post-recession period (2014–2017).
Download the Brief

In addition to the issue brief and accompanying video on the experiences of older students, we prepared an issue brief on the experience of veterans, who tend to be older re-entry students, but who face unique challenges as they seek to transition back into the civilian workforce. We have also prepared issue briefs on flexible scheduling and the awarding of credit for prior learning, two aspects of the M-CAM program that made it possible for older students to enroll and succeed at such high levels. These resources, as well as additional issue briefs and videos from the evaluation of the M-CAM program, can be found on our website