Detroit-based training program equips local talent for in-demand energy job

In April 2021, DTE Energy and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 17 opened a Detroit-based tree trimming academy to grow and develop local talent for an in-demand, union energy career.

The program offers a paid, immersive learning opportunity that equips students with career-readiness preparation, safety training and utility arboriculture skills needed to move into IBEW Local 17’s apprenticeship program pipeline. Additional training for a Class B commercial driving license (CDL) and customer service certification are part of the seven-week curriculum.

Since launching the DTE | IBEW Tree Trim Academy, over 100 students – 70% from communities of color, 50% from the City of Detroit, 10% women and one member of the LGBTQ+ community– have graduated the program.

“Joining the Tree Trim Academy changed my life,” said DeMarcus Cleveland. “I left my USPS letter carrier job to begin a new career and I’ve never looked back.”

After beginning the tree trim program in July 2021, Cleveland is on track to attain his union journeyman card in April 2024. While he has moved through the IBEW Local 17 apprenticeship – one of only two such programs registered with the U.S. Department of Labor – his wife has started her own business out of their home while raising their three young children.

“In just two years, my family has built a strong life for our children with the stability and growth offered through the Tree Trim Academy program,” said Cleveland. “While I’ve had to work hard, the opportunity provided me a clear path and lots of support to create a new life for myself and my family. It’s only up from here!”

Learn more about the DTE | IBEW Tree Trim Academy at or contact Focus: HOPE at or by phone at 313.494.5500.

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