Addressing Workforce Development

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Developing a shared vision and partnership between government, the private sector and philanthropy to foster an improved educational system while promoting both short- and long-term strategic job development programs will be the key to meeting Detroit’s future workforce needs.

That philosophy is shared by three of the Motor City’s leading experts and advocates in bringing together the many diverse organizations now focused on putting more people to work in 21st century jobs.

The trio shared their expertise with grantmakers at a recent meeting of the Council of Michigan Foundation’s InFocus Southeast Michigan event, Addressing Workforce Development, at the Barton Mallow Company, a Southfield-based design and contracting firm.

Jeff Donofrio, director of workforce development for the city of Detroit provided a deep data dive of Detroit’s workforce.

  •  Since January 2014, 16,024 more Detroiters have become employed, representing an increase of 17.8 percent, including a 9.84 percent gain since December 2016.

  • 270,000 Detroit residents are living in poverty

  • There’s a disconnect between educational attainment and being employable.

“We need to think differently about how people are engaged and we have to connect up differently with those individuals and their neighborhoods and take a close look at how all our resources line up with the continuum of worker support,” Jeannine La Prad, president and CEO, Corporation for a Skilled Workforce said.

The Corporation for a Skilled Workforce has created goals for:

  • Individuals: Strengthen capacity for strategic thinking and increase awareness of leadership strengths and challenges.

  • Organizations: Improve sector-based approach.

  • System: Better meet business sector needs and align with local and regional economic development priorities.

The United Way for Southeast Michigan’s College and Career Pathways program involves 25,000 youth and they are working closely with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s Workforce Job Committee to address youth issues in the city, including education and employment.

“We are involved with various programs, including Link Learning that looks to change the way we deliver high school education in Detroit and beyond,” Tammie Jones, vice president of College and Career Pathways said. “This program is built around ensuring rigorous academics, professional technical curriculums, providing student supports and developing project- and work-based learning.”

Jones said a major concern is the education landscape in Detroit, with 103,000 students attending 230 different schools with 12 different oversight entities each with the authority to open and close city schools.

“Across the board, quality of education at these schools remains an issue. We all need to work together if we are to see the success we envision.”

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