Identifying nonprofit training organizations, especially those that do not pursue accreditation or confer degrees, is challenging both in defining the relevant set of skills-based programs and locating them. Additionally, many organizations that consider their mission to be workforce development fit more accurately under the label of employment services or job-readiness training. To better understand the pervasiveness of training programs in this sector, this research accessed two nonprofit directories. In both listings, participating organizations ranged from new, single-employee consulting or career-counseling businesses to large and long-lasting union apprenticeships. Whereas none of the former met the criteria for “skills training” and all of the latter had been previously identified, only a small number of relevant programs within each directory contribute to this portion of our survey of nonprofit skills training.
GuideStar’s database includes 103 Michigan nonprofits who report “employment training” as their “primary cause area.” Of these, 54 are associated with one of the union apprenticeships, industry associations or with a state program, all of which have been discussed above. Among the remaining 49 nonprofits, only two met our criteria for specific skills training, both focusing on construction trades.[*] In sum, a list of over 100 nonprofits with a self-identified job training mission netted just two independent nonprofits with a skills training emphasis.
The directory of the Michigan Nonprofit Association, made up of 977 members, unfortunately, does not provide as convenient of an identifier for training-oriented nonprofits as Guidestar. MNA member organizations can specify multiple “organization types,” but only 20 specify “employment/job related.” Among those is one state-funded program and the MNA itself. Of the remaining, 10 list “education” as a second type. Still, only one of these 20 organizations offers skills training.[†] Of the hundreds of other organizations in MNA’s directory that list “education” as their focus, the type of education varies from nutritional awareness, grant writing, literacy, public health, social advocacy and formal, degree-granting postsecondary schools. In short, a list of 977 member organizations nets only one skills-training program not identified in one of the categories of formal training surveyed above.
Though neither of these directories bear fruit in the form of many unique training opportunities, the observation that a combined list of more than 1,000 nonprofit organizations in Michigan net so few actual skills training programs, is valuable. These data should not be interpreted as suggesting that, say, small church-based mentoring, local community center work readiness courses, career exposure or counseling efforts are not common or not important. Nevertheless, they should temper any impressions that there are an abundance of private, nonprofit programs for workforce development training.
[*] North End Skilled Trade trains people in the Detroit area in general construction. The Welding Artisan Center Inc., also in Detroit, has a narrower scope for training welders, and according to its website was set to open late in 2018. For more information, see: https://www.detroitnest.org and http://www.weldingartisancenter.com.
[†] West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology offers career training in medical coding, medical billing, and pharmacy technician. For more information, see: https://work.wmcat.org.