New state campaign helps Michigan adults earn diploma

A new state program has been unveiled that helps inform people about adult education programs and services, helping them improve their reading, writing, English and math skills, possibly leading to a General Educational Development (GED) certificate.

More than 900,000 Michiganders lack a high school diploma or equivalent, and the Michigan Talent Investment Agency (TIA) reports that, on average, those with high school diplomas earn more than $6,000 a year than those who do not have a high school education. 

“Learn More, Earn More” – the new outreach campaign introduced by the TIA’s Adult Services section – is designed to inform Michiganders about available adult education opportunities.

The agency cites a report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce that surmised 70% of the jobs in Michigan will require some level of postsecondary education by 2020. But just 45% of Michigan workers in 2017 had a college degree or high-quality credential, according to the Lumina Foundation. 

Adult education is integral to ensuring workers are properly educated for occupational training and postsecondary credential programs to fill the additional 15,000 high-wage, high-skill jobs that Michigan needs to fill every year until 2024. 

Michigan is only one of nine states in the country, and the only state in the Midwest, that haven’t established a formal goal for postsecondary attainment. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in her State of the State address, announced a new statewide goal of increasing the number of Michiganders between the ages of 16 and 64 with a postsecondary credential to 60 percent by 2030.

“Adult education lays the foundation for workers to acquire a secondary credential and improve their basic skills in order to be successful in postsecondary education opportunities, where they will learn the skills that are currently in demand, which benefits not only the workers and their families but also the state as a whole,” said Stephanie Beckhorn, acting director of the Michigan Talent and Economic Development Department.  “A skilled workforce encourages businesses to stay, move into or expand in Michigan.”

TIA officials report that some 44% of immigrants 18 and overcome to the U.S. each year either lacking a high school education, not speaking English well enough to find good jobs and education opportunities, or both. 

In Michigan, 21.1% of persons 25 years old and older, who speak a language other than English, do not have a high school diploma or equivalent compared to 7.9% of the population 25 and over who speak only English.

For decades, obtaining a GED certificate was the only nationally recognized, and widely available, high school equivalency option for Michigan residents, but now there are three different options to choose from.

In addition to the GED option, the state is now offering the High School Equivalency Test and the Test Assessing Secondary Completion. Like the GED offering, the other options are aligned to national college and career readiness standards and are also available in a computer-based format.

“Earning a high school equivalency certificate is critical to obtaining employment or accessing further education and training,” Beckhorn said. “Adding these other options ensures that Michigan residents have as much choice and flexibility as possible when pursuing their high school equivalency credential.”

There are more than 100 adult education programs statewide that provide a range of free or low-cost services and instruction and may be available on a one-on-one basis, in a classroom setting or online. A comprehensive list of local programs is available on the Talent Investment Agency website at





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