A paid janitorial training program for metro Detroiters with disabilities and other barriers to employment, operated by JVS Human Services, continues to provide local businesses with specialized cleaning skills essential during the pandemic. At the same time, lives of participants in the eight-week program have been changed forever, with graduates gaining the ability to work part-time or full-time in a variety of facilities once the course is completed, ranging from hospitals and retail outlets to sports arenas, offices, apartment buildings and government buildings. To qualify for the program, participants need to have an open case with Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) or the Veterans Administration (VA), to be referred for training from these organizations. For an image of a janitorial program trainee and trainer click here.
“The feedback we get from businesses is how much they appreciate the expertise our trainees have in commercial cleaning, which remains vital for everyone’s health and safety. Once they are on the job, our trainees don’t need additional instruction which is important given so many businesses are stretched thin,” explained Danita Love-Carter, manager for Rehabilitation Services at JVS Human Services, one of the largest human service agencies in metro Detroit.
During the course, which runs five days-a-week and is paid at minimum wage, participants learn skills including: how to measure and mix chemicals, the correct sequential order of cleaning rooms, how to restock supplies, safety measures, how to follow a cleaning route, timeliness and how to use floor care machines such as scrubbers and buffers. In addition to deep cleaning and sanitizing techniques, trainees also learn interpersonal skills to help them interact appropriately with people if they are cleaning around them, for example in an office or hospital.
Typically, starting wages for janitorial jobs is $10-$15/hour, and while most of the jobs are part-time and do not include benefits, many participants will retain their disability benefits; and workers employed in hospitals are often full time and have benefits.
Ken Alexander, 52, of Detroit, credits the janitorial training program with turning his life around. After battling a substance abuse problem, he was “at rock bottom” and needing to start over. “The program helped me do a 360-degree turnaround,” he says. “I was learning, and they were willing to take a chance on me. If I made a mistake, no one judged me. It was just so supportive.” That was back in 2007, and since then Alexander has had promotions, becoming a crew leader, and recently earned the title of Supervisor, Environmental Services at JVS Human Services. His work has also enabled him to look after his family, including being able to put his daughter through school.
One company that uses the cleaning service is Broder & Sasche Real Estate. “The JVS Janitorial Services team has been a tremendous asset to our property management team,” said Sarah Turton, property manager. “They are very customer-service oriented and will always notify me of an issue, even when it is outside their scope of duties. Their hard work, dedication, and consistency do not go unnoticed.”
If a qualified applicant does not have an open case with MRS or VA, but would like to be considered for this training program, JVS Human Services will be able to guide them; contact Danita Love-Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Metro Detroit businesses interested in employing JVS Human Services-trained janitors may also use this email for more information.