Why Detroit employers must stop seeking a purple squirrel

From: Detroit Free Press

By: Nathan Bomey

February 27, 2015

Here are five insights into how to address Detroit’s structural unemployment crisis.

Stop looking for a purple squirrel because you won’t find one.

That’s the message Detroit’s workforce development leaders believe that local employers need to absorb. The purple squirrel is a buzzword for perfectly qualified job candidates who meet all the myriad skills listed on job postings.

They don’t exist.

The leaders, speaking today at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Detroit Policy Conference, addressed the practical challenges of rehabilitating the local workforce in the aftermath of the city’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

“What’s difficult, especially with people who have been unemployed for a long time, is there is no quick fix,” said Lisa Katz, executive director of Workforce Intelligence Network. “There are some jobs that are easier to enter into than others but a lot of the time the pay reflects that.”

To address Detroit’s structural unemployment crisis, the city needs to place a substantial emphasis on retraining initiatives.

Here are five key insights gleaned from a panel conversation on the city’s unemployment crisis.

Stop pretending that highly qualified employees will pop up without any effort.

Too many companies aren’t investing in training to get new employees the skills they need to succeed on the job.

“Employers spend more on coffee for their staff than they do on training,” Katz said.

Instead, they should plunge a portion of that money into training investments.

Pamela Moore, CEO of Detroit Employment Solutions Corp., said the average employer spends up to $2,000 seeking the purple squirrel.

Many unemployed Detroiters lack the basic soft skills necessary to thrive in the workplace.

Soft skills involve interpersonal communication, showing up to work on time, abstaining from banned substances, conflict resolution and dressing appropriately in the workplace.

“That’s one of the major challenges we’re seeing,” said Shawna Forbes, vice chancellor of the Wayne County Community College District’s School of Continuing Education and Workforce Development.

But Forbes said that soft skills should be integrated into training programs to help workers understand how to address these issues.

High school students in Detroit need to understand that there are more options than getting a four-year college degree.

Those options include apprenticeships, professional training opportunities and associate’s degrees. Students must also be told that they can “earn and learn” at the same time by gradually taking classes while maintaining a job, said Moore.

“There are so many pathways out of high school and we need to tell our young people about those pathways,” Moore said.

Derek Turner, vice president of operations for information technology training group Grand Circus, said employers need to grasp that blindly requiring a four-year degree isn’t always fruitful.

“Should it cost $50,000 to demonstrate you can work hard?” he asked. “I’ve seen many non-hard-working four-year degree holders.”

Structurally unemployed workers do not necessarily have to settle for low-skill jobs.

Katz said that for some unemployed workers, eight weeks of IT training can qualify them to do quality assurance work, for example.

“Even if those people don’t come with a degree,” she said.

Many structurally unemployed people in Detroit need practical help.

“A huge barrier for many individuals is transportation,” Moore said.

The recent viral story of Detroiter James Robertson’s 21-mile daily walking commute simply highlighted the transportation challenges that many low-income Detroiters face in finding jobs.

But the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Community Ventures program, which Moore’s program administers in Detroit, helps provide practical assistance to structurally unemployed people who need help paying for daycare, utilities or uniforms, for example.

“Some people need lots and lots of support before they’re ready to go into a job,” Moore said.

Walsh College Opens Registration for Spring 2015 Semester Classes

Registration for spring 2015 semester classes at Walsh College, a leading, all-business college and one of Michigan’s largest graduate business schools, is now open through Thursday, April 9. Classes begin Friday, April 3.

On “Walk in Wednesdays,” students can meet with an advisor directly, have transcripts evaluated, apply, and register for classes. Appointments are suggested at all other times. Call 1-800-WALSH-01 or email admissions@walshcollege.edu.

Walsh offers fully accredited degrees at the bachelor and master levels, as well as graduate-level certificates.

Undergraduate programs offered at Walsh include Bachelor of Accountancy; Bachelor of Business Administration with majors in Accounting Processes, Finance, General Business, Management, or Marketing; and Bachelor of Science in Information Technology.

Graduate programs include Master of Business Administration (MBA); Master of Science in Accountancy (MAC); Master of Science in Finance (MSF); Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT); Master of Science in Information Technology Leadership (MSITL); Master of Science in Management (MSM); Master of Science in Marketing (MSMKT); and Master of Science in Taxation (MST).

Dual-degree options are available as MBA/MSF; MBA/MSITL; MBA/MSM; and MBA/MSMKT. The MS programs share essential courses with the MBA program. MS programs may also be taken separately.

Business certificate programs for credit vary in length from three to five courses, some of which can be completed on campus or online, including Finance, Human Resources Management, Project Management, and Taxation.

Walsh College offers a range of scholarships to newly admitted, degree-seeking undergraduate students. A limited number of scholarships are also available to newly admitted, degree-seeking graduate students. Walsh College has 27,000 alumni worldwide. More than 85 percent of its alumni live and work in Michigan.

For more information, visit www.walshcollege.edu.

IPS Technology Services Places Two Senior Dot Net Developers with Financial Management Client

TROY, Mich., February 26, 2015 –IPS Technology Services recently placed two senior dot net developers with a client in the financial management sector.

IPS Technology Services’ client—whose primary business is to provide non-profits with options to better manage finances—will benefit greatly from the addition of two senior developers to their expert team. The client’s team of IT professionals creates complex applications to handle everyday financial transactions for their customers, including payroll, membership dues and billing—among other services. The newly-hired developers will be writing code to enhance the client’s enterprise applications, resulting in the ability to exceed their customers’ expectations.

IPS Technology Services practices a thorough candidate recruiting and screening process to provide clients with the talented IT professionals they seek. IT Staffing is one of many services that IPS Technology Services offers to its clients. For more information, feel free to contact them at info@ipstechnologyservices.com or call 248-526-9000.

About IPS Technology Services

IPS Technology Services provides end-to-end IT services. IPS develops custom applications using state of the art tools such as .Net, C#, VB, SaaS, SOA, Oracle, SQL Server, and/or by using third party software. IPS provides IT services in the following six areas:

1. IT Staffing (SharePoint, Oracle, Java, Dot Net, SQL Server, SAP, PM)
2. Technology Consulting, SharePoint, Enterprise Architecture, Best Practices
3. Web based Enterprise and Mobile Application Development and Integration
4. Healthcare IT with EHR and Practice Management implementation
5. Engineering IT services
6. Website development, Digital Marketing, and Social Media

For more information on IPS Technology Services, please call 248-526-9000, send an email to info@ipstechnologyservices.com or click www.ipstechnologyservices.com.



Detroit—February 26, 2015—Dykema, a leading national law firm, is proud to announce that Sherrie Farrell has been recognized by The Michigan Chronicle as a 2015 Woman of Excellence. Farrell was selected from near hundreds of nominees to join this exclusive group of 350 of Southeast Michigan’s most-influential women.

Now in its eighth year, The Michigan Chronicle Women of Excellence Awards celebrate local African-American women who inspire others through their vision, leadership, exceptional achievements and participation in community service. The women who are chosen for this award are champions of economic empowerment, the backbone of religious and educational organizations and the driving forces in politics and community service in southeast Michigan. The Michigan Chronicle is one of the region’s oldest, most respected African-American newspapers.

Farrell is the Office Managing Member of the firm’s Detroit office, Leader of Dykema’s Cybersecurity practice, and Chair of the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. A member of the firm’s Litigation Department, she advises clients on all aspects of business disputes, including a broad range of complex litigation matters. She has represented manufacturers, closely-held corporations, auto suppliers and construction companies in both litigated and non-litigated matters. Her practice also includes the defense of consumer financial services matters and she has served as the national discovery counsel for a Fortune 25 corporation.

“It is with great gratitude that I accept this honor as a Michigan Chronicle Woman of Excellence,” Farrell said. “I admire this respected, powerful group of women to the utmost degree and am thrilled to be their peer as we continue our hard work as businesswomen, community activists, philanthropists and entrepreneurs in the southeastern Michigan community.”

A well-known participant in her community, Farrell is a board member of the Gift of Life-Michigan Governing Board and Black Family Development, Inc. She also is an avid contributor to the Advisory Board of Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program, Wayne State University’s Board of Visitors and a Mentor for the Legal Profession Diversity Pipeline Program at Just the Beginning Foundation. Farrell was also a member of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Detroit Class XVIII, a community leadership program for executives in southeast Michigan.

Farrell earned a J.D., cum laude, from the Detroit College of Law and a B.A. from Wayne State University.

About Dykema

Dykema serves business entities worldwide on a wide range of complex legal issues. Dykema lawyers and other professionals in 12 U.S. offices work in close partnership with clients – from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies – to deliver outstanding results, unparalleled service and exceptional value in every engagement. To learn more, visit www.dykema.com and follow Dykema on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Dykema.

Uniting Two Detroits Session Features Candid Discussion on Diversity, Race

The Conference’s last session brought forward a candid discussion about race and economic opportunity in Detroit’s resurgence during the “Uniting Two Detroits” panel inspired by columns from Nolan Finley, editorial page editor for The Detroit News.

The panel, sponsored by Delta Air Lines focused on issues such as perceptions about diversifying the clientele in downtown Detroit, educating young African American residents about business startup opportunities and removing barriers to minority entrepreneurs, such as lack of access of capital.

The panel featured Dennis Archer Jr., president and CEO of Ignition Media Group and president of Archer Corporate Services; Cindy Pasky, president and CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions; Andre Spivey, Detroit City Councilman for District 4; and Eric Williams, director, Program for Entrepreneurship and Business Law, Wayne State University. The panel was moderated by Finley and Devin Scillian, anchor for WDIV-TV 4, which webcast the session.

Safe Roads Yes! on Fox 2’s “Let It Rip”

From: Fox 2 Detroit

February 26, 2015

Detroit Regional Chamber Vice President of Government Relations Brad Williams was on Fox 2 Detroit’s “Let It Rip” to share why a “Yes” vote on Proposal 1 is so crucial to motorists’ safety and Michigan’s global competitiveness.

In Detroit, a rare public appearance from one of Gov. Snyder’s chief education advisors

From: Michigan Radio

By: Sarah Cwiek

February 26, 2015

One of Gov. Snyder’s top education advisors made a rare public appearance at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s yearly Detroit Policy Conference Thursday.

Paul Pastorek has been working behind the scenes in Lansing for months.

According to the Governor’s office, he’s an “at-will consultant” helping design a major overhaul for Detroit’s struggling, fragmented education system.

Pastorek is best-known as the former Louisiana superintendent of schools, where he was largely responsible for completely reorganizing New Orleans schools in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

That overhaul dismantled the city’s traditional public school system, largely replacing it with a system of loosely-coordinated independent charters. Many observers expect him to suggest a very similar model for Detroit.

Pastorek pointed to major gains in academic achievement in New Orleans schools since then, though some education experts have recently questioned the data behind those claims.

Pastorek said he’s “encouraged” by what he sees as the current consensus across the political spectrum that Detroit’s whole school environment needs a major, coordinated overhaul.

Pastored described that current environment as “chaotic,” and also suggested it’s naïve to think doubling down on more of a “free market” school system will help.

“But likewise, thinking that a monopolistic bureaucracy is delivering real choice for parents is also wishful thinking,” he said, adding that recent history makes clear neither the city nor the state alone can produce meaningful education reform in Detroit.

Pastorek is expected to present his suggestions to Gov. Snyder sometime this spring, and Gov. Snyder has said he intends to act on those and other recommendations soon after.

Finley: A workforce that looks like Detroit

From: The Detroit News

By: Nolan Finley

February 26, 2015

Filling downtown Detroit’s lofts and nightspots with a more diverse clientele begins with bringing more diversity to downtown’s office buildings.

Employers hunting for workers in industries most associated with big city downtowns — high tech, financial services, marketing, design, etc. — complain the pool of qualified African-American applicants is extremely shallow in Detroit.

And they have a point — just under 13 percent of city residents have a college degree and nearly a quarter of the population lacks a high school diploma, according to census data.

But is that an excuse for not creating a diverse workforce?

Cindy Pasky doesn’t think so. The chief executive of Strategic Staffing Solutions, a worldwide information technology firm headquartered in the Penobscot Building downtown, has built a representative staff despite odds that are perhaps longer in her industry than in many others.

Nationwide, just 6 percent of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs are held by blacks.

At Pasky’s company, 41 percent of the 700 consultants she employs are African-American and 18 percent are Asian. Twenty-three percent of headquarters’ employees are black and 10 percent are Hispanic or Asian. And 28 percent of the executive team is black and 57 percent are women.

It’s one of the more diverse tech business in the region and it didn’t happen by accident. Pasky, who joins me today at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s policy conference to discuss uniting the two Detroits, explains how Strategic Staffing has put together a workforce that looks like Detroit.

Q: You are very proud of the diversity of your workforce. I’m hearing other Detroit businesses talk about the difficulty of recruiting qualified African-American workers, particularly for IT jobs. How do you doit?

A: A successful global workforce isn’t only about having content experts, it’s about having the smartest people who are curious enough to learn, push boundaries, break the rules and iterate. S3 has the procurement and human resources departments to support this. If you asked the S3 team how many of them are in jobs that they had done before, many of them would tell you that this is the first time they are in their current role. The S3 executive team finds talented people who believe in the core pillars of the company, supports them, puts the resources they need behind them and puts them to work. So S3 hasn’t found it difficult to recruit qualified African-American workers for IT jobs. There are talented African-Americans right here in Detroit, across this country and across the globe.

Q: How is diversity good for business, particularly your business?

A: Strategic Staffing Solutions’ success is because of our diversity. We are proud our team reflects the communities in which we do business from age, race, gender, ethnicity and orientation. In 25 years of doing business, we have found that teams that are diverse better reflect the global clients we serve. Teams that have a diversity of experience and learn from each other are committed to S3’s core pillars. This wouldn’t happen if everyone thought the same or looked at the world through the same eyes.

Q: Are Detroit’s institutions supportive enough of African-American start-ups? Are we as excited about the people who are from here and stayed here as we are about the newcomers?

A: No, Detroit institutions are not supportive enough of small businesses. As long as businesses like Canine to Five (a Cass Avenue kennel) have a hard time getting business loans, we aren’t anywhere near where we need to be. Detroit still needs a diversity of opportunities to support start-ups and take start-ups to the next level. Mayor (Mike) Duggan, (development chief) Tom Lewand and the mayor’s team are doing great work and leading in this effort. At S3, we are as excited about newcomers as we are about people who are from here and stayed here. The backbone of Detroit is made of business that could have chosen to leave, gone someplace else, or closed their doors when it was hard. These backbones businesses will be here even if the newcomers decide to leave.

Q: You are one of the few CEOs of a Detroit company who actually lives in Detroit. Does that give you a different perspective, experience?

A: Paul, my partner in and out of work, and I have lived in downtown Detroit for 28 years and S3 has called Detroit home for 25 years. We’ve stayed in Detroit because we love it. … We know the jewels of Detroit that have been here as long as we have. We remember when people thought you had to leave the city for entertainment and it is great to know that 10.5 million people come downtown ever year to take advantage of entertainment and cultural events. Paul and I are unique because we always knew the jewels of the city and never felt like we had to leave. I’ve shopped at Eastern Market since my childhood and I still go every Saturday that I can. What might be unique is that Paul and I know how incredible the city has always been and understand the complexity of Detroit and its history first hand.

Q: Why is it important for the city to have a more representative workforce downtown?

A: Jobs and housing unify Detroit and the city has to have a representative workforce downtown because greater downtown is diverse. Diverse teams have varying life experiences and more uniquely understanding our customer’s needs which help us to craft solutions differently than any competitor. Diversity is the competitive advantage in a global workforce.

Q: Do you worry about the Two Detroits scenario?

A: There isn’t a Two Detroit scenario. People socialize where they live and work and as long as we talk about Detroit like it is only 7.2 square miles we’re missing the point. As the demographic of the city change, demands for different types of services will change. What we’re seeing is about a very different demographic — hipsters and young families, for example — moving into concentrated areas and services popping up to meet their needs.

Q: How does Detroit’s dismal public school system hurt business in the city?

A: Detroit has to have a public school system that prepares children for a global economy. Right now that isn’t happening. Students are graduating not being able to read and without the basic social skills to enter into the workforce let alone specialized fields like STEM. Improving the public school system and programs like the mayor’s initiative to partner with businesses for summer youth employment opportunities are critical for fields like IT.

Detroit Policy Conference 2015

Uniting the two Detroits will be the subject of a panel discussion at today’s policy conference hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber. The conference is 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Motor City Casino Hotel Soundboard.

A 3 p.m. panel, featuring Cindy Pasky, chief executive of Strategic Staffing Solutions; Dennis Archer Jr., owner of Ignition Media; Detroit City Councilman Andre Spivey; and Eric Williams, a professor at Wayne State University, will be moderated by Detroit News Editorial Page Editor Nolan Finley and WDIV-TV anchor Devin Scillian.

The day also will feature an opening address by Mayor Mike Duggan and a presentation from Peter Kageyama, author of “For the Love of Cities.”

For more information, go to detroitchamber.com/dpc.

Chamber’s Detroit Policy Conference tackles ‘what’s next’ for the city

From: Fox 2 News

February 26, 2015

DETROIT (WJBK) – All eyes are on Detroit, watching to see how the city recovers from bankruptcy.

Talking points at Thursday’s Chamber’s Detroit Policy Conference address what’s next for the city, addressing the city’s blighted properties, mass transit and high car insurance rates.

Tearing down houses in Detroit at a record pace was a point of prime for Mayor Mike Duggan, who was the opening Keynote speaker at the conference.

“We’re taking down 100-200 houses a week,” he said. He said the city has the federal funds to keep up with that demolition rate, but when that fund runs out in August he’s not sure where that money will come from.

Another talking point is the DDOT buses, infamous for running slow and leaving many people waiting in the cold.

“We’ve made a commitment that in the first half of this year, the buses will run on schedule. So we’re up now to, I think, to 20 of the 80 buses have been delivered. People are seeing the new buses on the street. Ten buses a month are coming, and so every month it’s getting better,” he says. He adds that the buses should be running on time by June.

From buses to cars, Duggan also took time on stage to take aim at car insurance rates, promising change.

You can learn more about the conference by visiting testportal.detroitchamber.com.

Mayor Duggan shares vision for Detroit education system, youth jobs


February 26, 2015

DETROIT -Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan does not want to run the schools.

He wasted no time Thursday morning taking that off the board at the Detroit Policy Conference. Duggan said he has his hands full bringing basic city services up to snuff.

However, the mayor does see his administration playing a role in bringing a more rational strategy to school planning going forward, including making it easier for parents to enroll their children and get them to school.

“I can tell you, from the meeting I was in for 2 or 3 hours one night last week, I’m enormously encouraged,” said Duggan.

Duggan sees his administration playing an active role in the creation and management of an education commission. Currently, there are 20 different entities authorizing charter schools with little coordination or rational planning. Some neighborhoods are over-served, while others aren’t served at all.

“If you want to open a new school in the city you’ve got to indicate what kind of school and what location, and will be authorized by this. On the other hand, if we have a neighborhood like Brightmoor that doesn’t have a school, the education commission will go say, ‘We’ll take proposals to put a K-5 school in this location,'” said Duggan.

Parents applying to several high-demand schools now must apply to each school or system — Detroit Public Schools, charter schools, the Education Achievement, etc. — individually. The mayor wants to see a simpler, common enrollment process for parents in which one application can be forwarded to any school they desire.

About 40 percent of Detroit families have no family car. That eliminates many charter schools without busing. Duggan wants Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Detroit Public Schools buses to expand and coordinate so no child is left at the curb.

“Shouldn’t we have a single transportation system for the children in the city to get you to the public, EAA and charter schools, so now choice is available to every parent regardless of income,” he said.

The mayor also took the opportunity to enlist business support for his Grow Detroit’s Youth Talent (click here to visit the website) program. It aims to employ 5,000 Detroit kids ages 16 to 18 for six weeks this summer. Businesses can hire these paid interns for as little as $1,000.

“If we can create 5,000 opportunities for our young people this summer it will change the tone in this community and it’ll be a significant step forward,” said Duggan.

The city already has had 3,000 young people sign up, but it needs the support of businesses. They are bringing a number of summer jobs programs under one banner to streamline operations.

Meanwhile, the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren will announce its recommendations March 31.