Duggan Urges Detroiters to Access $100 Million in Job Training Opportunities
January 31, 2023
The Detroit News Jan. 30, 2023 Sarah Rahal
Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan on Monday walked Detroiters through the steps to access $100 million in job training opportunities during his annual citywide community meeting.
The American Rescue Plan Act-funded $100 million in scholarships is available through Detroit at Work, the city’s workforce development center.
Duggan said despite how long a resident had been out of the work or had never obtained their high school diploma, they could tap into the plan.
“For Detroiters who never learned to read, never got a high school diploma, are unemployed for more than six months, people who don’t make enough to buy a house and raise a family, there are scholarships for you here,” Duggan said to a packed auditorium at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.
Among the programs are Learn to Earn scholarships for those who read below eighth grade level. Residents can get paid $10 an hour, up to 20 hours per week or $800 per month, to learn basic math and reading skills. Hours are flexible and nights and weekends are available, in person and online.
“Folks are moving two grades of reading in 14 weeks,” Duggan said.
Online learning classes and high school diplomas are available. Detroiters have to have been scheduled to graduate in 2018 or earlier to get paid $10 per hour for up to 20 hours a week to earn their diploma or GED. More than 100 people have graduated from the program.
There’s also the Skills for Life Scholars, a hybrid program of people working full-time three days a week and going to training two days per week. Training for jobs starts out at $17-$25 an hour and lasts three to 12 months. Job opportunities include park ambassador, neighborhood cleanup and door-to-door outreach. Classroom work includes training opportunities including truck driver, heavy equipment operator, information technology, skilled trades and health care positions.
The program for Detroiters who have been unemployed for the last six months called Jump Start Scholars pays up to $300 a month to learn new skills.
The city offers 50 career-path training programs in industries such as skilled trades, health care, information technology, trucking and logistics through Detroit At Work. The city released a career guide Monday explaining each path. It’s estimated that entry-level opportunities are available within 48 hours of enrolling. Those wanting to brush up on skills can do so within two to four weeks.
There are 20 paid programs and 30 unpaid training programs. The paid options are high demand industries like IT, professional services, advanced mobility, health care, manufacturing, construction, infrastructure and starting a business.
Of the 82 people who have completed the Skills for Life program, half have gone on to better paying jobs outside the city, 30% were promoted to a better paying job for the city and 20% liked their current city job and remained, Duggan said.
One woman told Duggan her heart breaks whenever her nephew, whom she cares for her, calls the phone numbers on the city flyers for Detroit at Work and never receives a response.
Duggan told her, “He’s not gonna come to us. Tomorrow, we’re going to go out and come to him. We will walk him through it.”
“If you or someone you know has a felony or misdemeanor or some other issue in their background that you’ve been nervous about that is embarrassing to learn, don’t let that stop you,” said Nicole Sherard-Freeman, jobs executive and director of Detroit At Work. “Your past is not your future.”
Octavia Dunn, who went through the Learn to Earn program, said, “I just say try.”
Laura Chavez Wazeerud-Din of the Southwest Detroit Business Association, one of the 18 community organizations selected to recruit Detroiters to the Jump Start program, said it’s a blessing.
“A lot of time we try our best but to know that we have the backing of the U.S. government is something exponential and I’m so excited. I can’t wait for our phones to ring,” she said. “I’m excited to put my first couple of community members through the program and be able to make them one of these storytellers will be a privilege.”
8,400 Jobs Available
Earlier this month, Duggan held a news conference to celebrate the city’s unemployment rate that fell below 7%, the first time since 2000. But two experts warned the unemployment drop is due more to a reduction in the labor force than an increase in jobs.
The mayor said 8,400 jobs are available through Detroit At Work, to which he credited “success in attracting good-paying jobs in Detroit.”
“For the first time in my lifetime, we have a job available for every Detroiter who wants one,” he said.