Mayor Mike Duggan encouraged Detroiters to sign up for paid job training and adult education programs offered by the city while fielding questions about illegal dumping, neighborhood blight and more from residents at his annual community meeting.
Duggan said $100 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds will cover the cost of programs aimed at helping Detroiters obtain a high school diploma or GED, acquire certifications for good-paying technical jobs, reenter the workforce after more than six months of unemployment and learn how to read. To apply, residents can call the city’s workforce development organization at (313) 962-9675 from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. or visit detroitatwork.com.
- Long term unemployed could get jobs through new Detroit program
- Detroit-based academy to help train residents for jobs in energy efficiency
- Electric bikes are creating a new economy in Detroit
Additionally, four job fairs will be held in February to help residents learn more about Detroit at Work programs:
- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 2 – 18017 E. Warren (Payne Pulliam)
- 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 9 – 18100 Meyers (Northwest Activities Center)
- 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 16 – 16500 Tireman (Boys and Girls Club)
- 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 22 – 2470 Collingwood (Durfee Innovation Society)
Detroit’s unemployment rate was last recorded in November 2022 at 6.4% by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. An estimated 15,469 Detroit residents don’t have jobs, but that figure does not include people who are not actively seeking jobs.
The mayor highlighted five key programs Monday evening:
The Skills for Life program offers participants a job with the city while they receive training for a better-paying career. Participants are paid $15 an hour for three days of work and two days of job training courses each week. The program ranges from three to 12 months, depending on the field of study. More than 200 Skills for Life graduates are now working as commercial drivers, heavy equipment operators, electrical technicians and more.
On Tuesday, the city opened enrollment for Jump Start, a new program that offers scholarships to Detroit residents who have been unemployed for six months or longer. Participants earn $600 per month for up to six months to help cover living expenses, child care costs, transportation and other barriers to employment. The scholarship amount then drops to $400 for the next six months and then $200 for another six months after that.
Jump Start scholarships can be combined with other programs to provide an extra incentive to longtime unemployed residents to get back into the workforce. Duggan said Monday that the additional income will not cause someone to lose public benefits like Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP), cash assistance or other state relief. The city contracted with 18 Detroit community organizations to identify qualified residents and provide mentorship.
“The folks I need to reach are not on the internet watching the mayor do a speech,” Duggan said at Monday night’s presentation. “We need the folks who have been in the neighborhoods every day.”
Learn to Earn scholarships are available for residents who read below an Eighth grade level. Participants are paid $10 per hour for up to 20 hours per week for a maximum of $800 per month. Duggan said reading classes are available during the day, on nights and weekends, in-person and online.
Octavia Dunn, a graduate of Learn to Earn, encouraged residents to sign up for the program. She said that she dropped out of high school in 2004 and struggled to return to complete her degree while taking care of her daughter. Nearly a decade later, Dunn and her daughter walked across the stage together when she collected her diploma.
“It’s never too late,” Dunn said.
Scholarships also are available for residents who need to finish their high school education. Detroiters who were scheduled to graduate in 2020 or earlier can get paid $10 per hour for up to 20 hours per week to obtain their high school diploma or GED. Duggan said more than 100 residents have already graduated from the program.
The mayor said getting a high school degree is essential for employers to look at your resume. Obtaining a degree also adds the potential to earn an extra $10,000 per year over a person’s lifetime, he noted. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates 83% of Detroiters over the age of 25 graduated high school, while 16% have a bachelor’s degree.
“It’s a new day. Jeep won’t interview you unless you have a high school degree,” Duggan said. “These are different assembly lines. They’ve got computer screens. We want to unlock these jobs for you.”
Career training programs, some paid and others unpaid, are offered at Detroit at Work career centers at nine locations across the city.
One woman who attended Monday’s meeting told Duggan that her nephew has been trying to apply for job training programs through Detroit at Work for six months but he hasn’t heard back from the city. Duggan directed his staff to collect her nephew’s address so they could visit him at home and walk him through the application process.
Duggan’s address served as the mayor’s annual citywide meeting required under Detroit’s City Charter. Throughout the evening, department heads were available to respond as residents told Duggan of their problems and frustrations.
Duggan spoke to residents from the auditorium in Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, and his remarks were streamed online. Residents who appeared in person had a chance to address the mayor, while technical issues prevented all but a lucky few of the virtual attendees from asking questions.
Marcus and Torey Boyd are new homeowners who moved to Detroit’s west side after being priced out of the downtown apartment they had lived in for 17 years. Marcus said moving into the neighborhood helped the Boyds see the difference in investment compared to downtown. Trash is being dumped on vacant lots and abandoned homes are a haven for rodents, they said.
“We want to see positive things in our neighborhood,” Torey Boyd said. “I pay taxes, I’m going to fight to get what I want.”
Duggan fielded questions from residents about illegal dumping and debris plaguing their neighborhoods. He offered a few potential solutions, including increasing bulk trash pickup to a weekly schedule, instead of biweekly, and adding more security cameras to known dumping sites.
The mayor told BridgeDetroit he doubled the number of Department of Public Works vehicles on the streets last December. Duggan said he’s also interested in offering dumpsters to people who purchase homes from the Detroit Land Bank Authority, which he said is a major source of neighborhood debris.
“I was just pissed off at the amount of garbage you saw in this city,” Duggan said. “Three or four years ago we cracked down with cameras, arrested people, sent out city vehicles. Seventy percent of it was people from the suburbs coming in and dumping. Now we’re finding people from the city, they’re renovating a house and leaving the debris out. We need to step up.”