Detroiters need meaningful training and in-demand jobs

Applying-Jobs-College-_optThere’s no question that the city of Detroit is once again on the rise. After experiencing a historic bankruptcy, facilitated by an equally historic appointment and exiting of an emergency manager, the Motor City is now in a period of renaissance — again.
While news of construction projects and companies moving into the city seem to be a weekly occurrence, all of which is good for Detroit, the reality is, if Detroit is to come back full circle, a heavy and historic influx of training opportunities and in-demand jobs must be made available to Detroiters.
Therefore, the questions are: What are the in-demand jobs in Detroit? How do Detroiters acquire training to get the in-demand jobs? According to Pamela Moore, president and CEO of Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC), there are numerous hot jobs in demand, including information technology (IT) related positions. Additionally, there is a huge demands for truck drivers, health care workers, and the need to fill positions in retail and service/hospitality industries, the latter of which is to accommodate the booming number of restaurants opening in Detroit.
In a city that has historically defined manufacturing to the world, manufacturing in Detroit and the region is seeing new life, said Moore.
“Jobs in manufacturing are coming back strong,” Moore said. “Many companies are again making parts for GM, Chrysler and Ford. And there are some other good things pending in manufacturing that I can’t talk about right now, but are coming for Detroiters.”
Moore admits that there can often be a disconnect between Detroit job seekers and employers hiring for in-demand jobs.
“There are over 300 agencies inside the city of Detroit that are involved in some aspect of workforce development,” said the native Detroiter. “They could be doing remediation, job readiness, implementing training programs, or creating partnerships with schools. Because there are so many agencies, there is a tendency to be disconnected in growing in the same direction.”
Moore praised Mayor Duggan and his efforts to assemble a new workforce council. This entity will be charged with discussing and creating ways in which to best leverage public and private resources and dollars that will greatly increase and improve the level of services for workforce development agencies to help Detroit job seekers.
“We (workforce development stakeholders) need to do a better job of assessing who needs to be trained or retrained, and who needs remediation,” said Moore. “We need to do better at connecting with high school programs so that our young people are aware of the careers that are here in Detroit and in the region. It’s vital that they see that there is a pathway after high school that leads to a job, and the pathway to a certain job doesn’t necessarily mean going to a four-year college to get a bachelor’s degree.
“We know that a degree is not necessary to get many of the jobs that are in demand, but there is a level of training and education involved beyond high school.”
Moore also discussed her organization’s role in helping Detroiters find jobs through District Detroit. The construction of the district, including the hockey arena, is expected to create approximately 8,300 construction and construction-related jobs and 1,100 permanent jobs in Detroit.
“Whether someone is a skilled tradesman looking for a job or a recent high school graduate looking for a career path, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, in partnership with Olympia Development of Michigan can help,” said Moore.
Formed in 2012 at the behest of then-Mayor Dave Bing, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, which was once part of the City of Detroit’s Workforce Development Department, is a non-profit organization and is a part of the Michigan Works! Association. It is one of 25 Michigan Works! Agencies located around the state.
DESC, Detroit’s largest workforce and training agency, provides a multiplicity of training and job search related services to Detroit job seekers, as well as employers seeking employees.
Another Detroit-based organization that has its fingers on the pulse of helping Detroiters gain more information about in-demand jobs is Workforce Intelligence Network of Southeast Michigan (WIN). Launched in 2011, the organization forms valuable partnerships with nine community colleges and seven Michigan Works! agencies in the Detroit area and other stakeholding organizations. Lisa Baragar Katz serves as the organization’s executive director.
WIN’s ultimate goal is to provide up-to-date and actionable labor market intelligence that will help partnering organizations develop workforce training and other resources needed for employers to identify employees.
“We want to make sure that the community colleges are working more closely with agencies to help people get back into the job market,” said Colby Cesaro, WIN’s director of research.
Based on WIN’s long-range research data, information technology, manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, and retail and hospitality jobs are in high demand.
“We don’t work directly with unions, we work directly with community colleges and other agencies as it relates to skilled trades training,” said Cesaro. “A lot of our work is providing labor market information to community colleges about employers’ needs. The information that we give them helps them better create training programs for people seeking jobs. In essence, there are community colleges in this region that have partnerships with Michigan Works! Agencies to offer skilled trades training to individuals.”
The State of Michigan recently provided a multimillion dollar grant to community colleges for skilled trades equipment to conduct skilled trades training. DESC’s Pamela Moore is acutely aware of the importance of skilled trades training programs and the inclusion of Detroiters.
“In 2012, DESC, in partnership with the Department of Labor and the state’s Workforce Development Agency,” she said, “brought unions to the table and said, ‘We want to be your partner in finding individuals for your skilled trades apprentice programs.’ Today we have 126 registered apprentices across various unions.
“Some are sponsored by construction companies that partner with the union. In the end, we just want to make sure that various unions understand the importance of the inclusion of Detroiters in these apprenticeship opportunities and ultimately getting Detroiters in well-paying skilled trades jobs.”
Both Moore and Casaro’s organizations also reach out to local high schools to better inform students of career opportunities and the training that’s needed. WIN offers “My Bright Future” and “Career Jump Start,” the latter of which was “launched due to the lack of knowledge that many high schools students have about jobs in demand and the training programs needed to get such jobs.”
Moore touts DESC’s “Career Awareness and Readiness Equals Success” (CARES) program’s two models. One is a school-based component for selected Detroit high schools and students (tenth – twelfth graders) and the other is a year-round youth program that encompasses both in-and-out of school youth, 14 to 21.
The two models provide young people with career education, career advice and coaching, and include in work-readiness, occupational training and some paid work experiences.
Several other programs in the city also help prepare young people for future jobs. One is Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP), a nonprofit entity that provides historically underrepresented youth with innovative educational programs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine). DAPCEP teaches children and teens in such areas as nanotechnology, renewable energy, robotics, computer programming, chemical engineering, video game design, entrepreneurism and more.
Palencia Mobley, a DAPCEP alum, represents the best of what the organization has done in preparing young Detroiters for future jobs in STEM.
“Even though I went to a top public school in Detroit, kids in suburban schools had access to things and information that we didn’t have,” said Mobley in a video presentation. “DAPCEP leveled the playing field in terms of knowing certain things about STEM. Mobley, who now has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in civil engineering from Wayne State University, once worked as an engineer for Tetra Tech in Detroit. She currently works as the Mayor’s Office liaison to the Detroit City Council.
There are thousands of in-demand jobs that must be filled in the city and region over the coming months and years. Opportunities are available to prepare Detroiters for such positions.

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