For generations, an abundance of skilled tradespeople in southeast Michigan built the region into a manufacturing powerhouse. In recent decades, economic downturns evaporated the trades talent pool, pushing electricians, plumbers, carpenters, pipefitters, machinists, millwrights, welders, and others to jobs elsewhere in the nation. Currently, more than half of Detroit’s youth and adult populations are unemployed, outside the workforce and not in school, isolated by a lack of market-demand skills. Meanwhile, 3,100 jobs open every year in area construction and manufacturing.
To help restore Detroit’s middle class, DTE Energy is nourishing individual talent and work ethic with training in skilled trades connected to immediate, well-paying jobs. The DTE Foundation has invested in a talent-to-trades pipeline, the front end of which is Detroit’s Randolph Career Technical Center. After three years of direct involvement by DTE’s chief administrative officer to keep the doors open at Randolph, the DTE Energy Foundation’s support leveraged community partners to refurbish the school. Enrollment at Randolph has tripled from 100 in 2016-17 to over 300 this year. DTE Energy has also infused Randolph with 1,800 hours of in-kind support, including company employees serving as volunteer teachers, project managers, and construction workers. In the months ahead, Randolph will launch evening courses in skilled trades for adults.
Additionally, DTE Energy has supported other training programs and with its suppliers has committed to hire 1,000 adults as well as 1,000 youth with multiple barriers to employment into the area workforce by 2022. The support provided by The DTE Energy Foundation created a multiplier effect by leveraging relationships with other companies and vendors to achieve the goals to renovate Randolph and elevate its curriculum.