The M-CAM consortium was formed in the aftermath of the global economic recession of 2007–2009 when the economy in Michigan was beginning to recover. To train workers for the jobs expected to be in demand in the future and to meet the projected labor-force needs of industry, the eight community colleges that were part of the M-CAM consortium used TAACCCT funding to update manufacturing equipment and technology, expand advanced manufacturing course offerings, and strengthen career pathways.

This report is 228 pages long and describes the Michigan Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing's (M-CAM) monthly in-person “strategy and operations” meetings. These meetings were a particularly useful means for coordinating consortium activities. Macomb launched these meetings in the Spring of 2015 after it became clear that existing communication strategies, such as regular conference calls, were insufficient for achieving the objectives of the grant. The in-person strategy and operations meetings proved essential for cementing cross-college relationships and gaining the traction needed to complete grant deliverables. Their success depended, in large part, on the attendance of the college leads, who had the authority to make decisions and act on key decision-points.

During these meetings, attendees discussed and made considerable progress on matters related to some of the consortium’s most important accomplishments:

  • Implementation of work plan components.
  • Pathway development and identification of industry-recognized professional certifications.
  • Partner engagement.
  • Data availability and access.
  • Communications and dissemination.

As discussed in the report, faculty across the different colleges appreciated the in-person meetings that focused on pathway development and identification of professional certifications. Initially, many faculty members expressed reticence in incorporating industry certifications into their noncredit and credit training programs. But, after attending training and becoming certified themselves, faculty members began to see the utility of industry certifications and the possible ways noncredit students could use the certifications to transition into credit programs. Faculty members also greatly appreciated the opportunity to interact and network with faculty from other colleges. Several faculty representatives from across the M-CAM consortium reported that the career pathway discussions helped them identify new learning opportunities for their students and ways to save money on educational materials.

In general, the colleges used their in-person meetings to create a sense of community and get ideas for how to tackle common challenges. They shared information on such topics as recruitment, credit articulation, engagement of faculty, and lynchpin partnerships.

Major Findings & Recommendations

The evaluation compared the employment outcomes for M-CAM students to a comparison group of students from the same colleges that enrolled in an automotive technician or Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) programs. The evaluation also conducted a historical analysis, comparing outcomes for M-CAM students to those that participated in advanced manufacturing programs at the colleges before M-CAM. Findings included:

  • M-CAM students had significantly higher employment rates and higher earnings than those in comparison groups of study, even after adjusting for differences between groups in baseline characteristics.
  • After controlling for differences in characteristics, M-CAM students who were employed earned on average about $500 to $1000 more per quarter than students enrolled in the comparison group programs.
  • The historical analysis showed that the enhancements brought about by M-CAM improved the probability that a student would find employment by at least 10 percentage points. The effect of M-CAM enhancements on earnings was less clear.

Outcomes included:

  • The M-CAM initiative played an important role in strengthening partnerships and making structures and processes at the system level more conducive to supporting career pathways in advanced manufacturing.
  • Consortium colleges deepened their engagement and collaboration with industry associations and employers, the public workforce system, nonprofit and community-based organizations, and four-year educational institutions. 
  • M-CAM funding helped bridge the divide between noncredit and credit programs and helped bring greater awareness of advanced manufacturing programs to college administrators, employers, and prospective students.
  • By aligning programs to industry-recognized standards and using third-party industry certifications as a basis for awarding academic credit, the colleges built cross-consortium consistency into their training programs.
  • The colleges leveraged the M-CAM grant to obtain additional resources that allowed them to purchase and upgrade equipment, expand facilities, and integrate intrusive case management services for advanced manufacturing students into their service delivery systems.
  • Efforts to adequately and reliably track M-CAM student outcomes led to improved, transformative, changes in how the colleges gathered and reported program-level data.