Closing the skilled labor gap in Detroit
Marcus Jones ( MS/MUP, 12 )
Co-Founder and President Detroit Training Center
Working with my master’s project team and meeting Dr. Bunyan Bryant, who helped me make my decision to come to U-M
Find a faculty member you idolize and learn from them. They are there to help and want to see you succeed; however, you have to seek them out.
These days, you can’t turn a corner in Detroit without seeing evidence of revival. Millions of dollars are being poured into the city’s makeover, from blight remediation and salvage operations to renovations and brand new buildings. But as the construction (and deconstruction) business booms, many Detroiters remain stuck in a rut.
Although unemployment in Detroit has steadily fallen since it peaked at more than 20% in June 2013, it now sits at 9.8% – still more than double the national rate. The problem? Detroit residents are simply not qualified for the available jobs.
“On one hand, you have tons of construction jobs opening up in the city. On the other hand, you have a high number of out-of-work residents,” said Marcus Jones, co-founder and President of the Detroit Training Center. “We aim to bridge that gap through skilled labor training.”
The Detroit Training Center offers dozens of courses in construction safety, licenses, and skills, from operating forklifts and backhoes to removing asbestos and lead. It also offers commercial driver’s license (CDL) certification training. Soft skills like resume writing and interviewing, as well as principles of sustainability and environmental stewardship, are part of every class.
Since it was founded in 2012, the center has graduated 3,500 students, 90% of whom are Detroit residents. Alumni find jobs paying from $12 to $40 an hour, depending on the field.
“Our culture is to empower our students to be directly involved in the revitalization of the city,” Jones said. “We’re rebuilding Detroit, one resident at a time.”