Following last year’s pledge to offer Detroiters “priority access” to apply for 5,000 new positions with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), the giant automaker is continuing to deliver on what was promised through the “Community Benefits Agreement” with the City of Detroit. The commitment comes as FCA is expanding its Jefferson North Assembly Plant on the city’s east side while converting the auto company’s east side Mack Avenue Engine Complex, to assemble the next generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV. The North Jefferson Plant will continue its production of the Dodge Durango and the redesigned Grand Cherokee.
A major source and partner in helping FCA achieve its hiring mission is Detroit at Work, an agency that provides job and training opportunities for Detroiters, under the auspices of Mayor Mike Duggan’s Workforce Development Board, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (a Michigan Works! Agency), and the City of Detroit.
Of the 5,000 positions that FCA is proactively seeking to fill, the vast majority are for full-time production operators, tasked with assembling the Jeep Grand Cherokee. According to FCA specifications, the position’s hourly wage is $17.00, with full benefits.
For Detroiters to be eligible for FCA’s “priority access” hiring commitment, they must first complete a Detroit at Work Job Readiness Event. This will lead to a five-step preparation process that must be successfully completed, which includes submitting proof of Detroit residency, verifying eligibility to apply to FCA, completing a practice assessment to prepare applicants for the application process, signing a drug-free pledge, and experiencing a presentation explaining what it’s like to work for FCA.
As of Tuesday, Sept. 15, thousands of Detroiters have expressed an interest in working at FCA by completing the Detroit at Work Readiness Event.
“More than 16,000 Detroiters have received an invitation from FCA to apply for positions,” said Nicole Sherard-Freeman, executive director of Workforce Development and Detroit at Work for the City of Detroit. “And between 7,000 and 8,000 have actually applied. More than 2,700 Detroiters have been interviewed. Currently, 1,234 Detroiters have received job offers, with 730 accepting their offers. And 300 Detroiters have received an immediate start date.”
According to Sherard-Freeman, it was surprising for the Detroiters to go to work immediately.
“We were not expecting these jobs to start until November and December of this year, maybe into January of 2021,” said Sherard-Freeman, a native Detroiter. “But FCA told us the company has shortages right now and wanted to offer people the opportunity to start early at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant or another facility. However, the workers will be guaranteed a move to Detroit when the Detroit facility positions are open. It’s a real win for Detroiters.”
It has also been a win for FCA, who is pleased with the level of recruitment and preparation of Detroiters that Detroit at Work has referred to the automaker.
“As an organization, FCA is incredibly thankful for the partnership that we have with the City of Detroit and Detroit at Work,” said Jordan Kaiser, talent acquisition manager at FCA. “And the candidates that we’ve interviewed and hired demonstrate a broad range of experience. I and everyone on the team at FCA remain impressed with the quality of candidates in Detroit.”
Detroiter Rhondelise Carter is one of the quality candidates from Detroit at Work that has impressed FCA’s hiring team. She will begin work soon as a production operator.
“I’m excited,” said Carter. “It will be soon. Maybe three days or more but whenever they call me, I’m there! I have been trying to get into FCA for a while but was unsuccessful until I went through Detroit at Work.”
Carter said after registering at Detroit at Work, she successfully completed the organization’s Job Readiness Event, which included steps to prepare her and others for a job at FCA. She interviewed well for the production operator’s position. The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 pushed many plans back on all fronts. However, things are moving forward and Carter couldn’t be happier.
“I thank both Detroit at Work and FCA from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity that’s been offered to me,” Carter said. “There are other smiling Detroiters who have started or will start very soon at FCA. For me, it’s my dream come true!”
In addition to production operator positions at FCA, Detroit at Work has also provided the automakert Wo with skilled trades workers and professional positions in Human Resources, IT, finance, purchasing, and other needed areas.
Detroit at Work is also working with other companies in Detroit and surrounding cities to assist them with identifying and hiring Detroiters. According to Sherard-Freeman, who also serves as the executive director of the Mayor’s Workforce Development Board, one of the company’s that Detroit at Work is servicing is Dakkota Integrated Systems. The company projects to fill just over 400 positions between now and 2022 at the new Dakkota Assembly Plant, located on the former 19-acre site of Kettering High School. To date, more than 1,250 applications have been submitted through Detroit at Work.
Detroit at Work is also working with Universal, a transportation services provider with two locations in Detroit. The company is hiring warehouse workers, forklift operators, CDL-A drivers, and tractor-trailer mechanics.
With an abundance of jobs available in Detroit, and for Detroiters, Sherard-Freeman wants to dispel a common myth about job opportunities in the Motor City.
“The narrative that there are not any jobs in Detroit is patently false,” Sherard-Freeman said emphatically. “Through www.Detroitatwork.com, our homepage reflects as of Tuesday, Sept. 15 that there are 9,700 jobs available. The number doesn’t reflect the FCA numbers. And the jobs available are across a broad sector of industries and are not just manufacturing and entry-level positions. So the narrative about there are no jobs available in Detroit is old and it’s wrong.”
To learn more about job opportunities at FCA for Detroiters through Detroit at Work, as well as employment opportunities with other companies/businesses, log on to www.DetroitatWork.com or call 313.962-WORK (9675) or go to Detroit at Work’s social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and follow the agency on Twitter.