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Retooling Detroit's Workforce

Chauncy Lennon

There is perhaps no more important measure of Detroit’s revitalization than whether it creates opportunities for Detroiters to secure good jobs and climb the economic ladder.

Today, there are clear signs of progress. As 2016 came to a close, 11,000 more Detroiters were working than at the start of the year. The city’s employment growth is outpacing overall U.S. growth. The unemployment rate is down to 10.4 percent from a high of about 28 percent in 2009.

But challenges remain. The unemployment rate is still significantly higher than the national average. Additionally, many residents do not have the necessary skill and education levels to qualify for good-paying jobs available locally.

“As Detroit comes back, we want to make sure that Detroiters are participating in the turnaround — and that means having the skills to secure available jobs,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

Through New Skills at Work, JPMorgan Chase’s $250 million global initiative to inform and accelerate demand-driven skills training, our firm is investing $12.5 million in Detroit to help boost the city’s workforce readiness. Our goal is to create more opportunities for workers to obtain well-paying, middle-skill jobs — those that require education beyond a high school diploma but less than a college degree — while providing employers with the workforce needed to grow and compete.

Jamie Dimon visits the training facility floor at Focus: HOPE with Decondi Kennedy (left) and Nathaniel Harris (right).

Detroit, like many other cities, has experienced profound shifts in its industrial base, technological disruption and a changing employment landscape. Working closely with our partners on the ground, we are sharing insights from our efforts to address these challenges.

Strengthening Detroit’s Workforce System Starts With Understanding It

The misalignment between the skills employers need to be competitive, the skills available in the workforce and the skills provided by training programs is unique to the local region. This makes good data and analysis essential for accurately diagnosing problems and formulating solutions that truly make a difference on the ground.

With this in mind, our firm commissioned research to examine the dynamics of Detroit’s workforce system. In 2016 JPMorgan Chase and the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW) released a series of reports that identified specific opportunities for strengthening the city’s workforce infrastructure and aligning resources to support job growth.

Christopher Proctor II started at Goodwill’s Green Works as a trainee and has moved on to a manager role in only a few years.

The findings helped inform a reconstituted Mayor’s Detroit Workforce Development Board. They also prompted the launch of a new Detroit Workforce System Leadership Academy — an intensive 12-month learning program facilitated by CSW and JPMorgan Chase — which will provide Detroit workforce leaders with an opportunity to collaborate on developing practical solutions to solve some of the city’s most challenging workforce issues. The Academy will leverage and build on the expertise of leaders across the workforce community to help up to 22 local senior workforce leaders better engage employers, understand industry workforce needs, develop successful career pathway strategies and strengthen connections between training providers, job seekers and employers.

“JPMorgan Chase has been instrumental in advancing the leadership culture of learning and innovation that Detroit’s leaders are working to build,” said Jeannine La Prad, CEO, Corporation for a Skilled Workforce. “Through the Academy, local leaders will increase their capacity to tackle persistent employment challenges for Detroit residents and employers. Together, we will help Detroit be on the leading edge of workforce system transformation.”

At Eco Works, Shiquia Montgomery recycles industrial materials as part of a skills training program.

At Eco Works, Shiquia Montgomery recycles industrial
materials as part of a skills training program.

“To translate economic growth into true economic opportunity for more Americans, we need a new strategy for human-capital formation and a major pivot toward practical skills.The unique sense of dignity conferred by meaningful work and earned success is vital for building satisfying lives and strong societies,” said Arthur C. Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute.

Investing in Detroit’s Most Effective Training Providers

Roderick Carter works on the assembly and packing line at an automotive supply facility managed by Goodwill Industries, one of the workforce training providers supported by JPMorgan Chase.

In Detroit, as in other cities around the world, JPMorgan Chase is investing in high-quality training providers that help individuals develop the skills, credentials and experience they need to get on stable and rewarding career pathways.

Since 2014, our support for organizations such as Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC), Goodwill Industries, EcoWorks, Focus: HOPE, The Greening of Detroit, United Way for Southeastern Michigan and others have helped more than 3,600 Detroiters build in-demand skills.

“The city of Detroit is seeing significant demand in a number of key occupational sectors, and we need to ensure that a pipeline of skilled talent is available to support that demand,” said Nicole Sherard-Freeman, president and CEO of DESC.

Denise Hampton works on the automotive parts supply line at Goodwill Industries.

That is exactly what DESC's Demand Driven Detroit Training program (3DT) — which uses a combination of boot camps, apprenticeships and basic skills accelerator training — is working to do. It focuses on arming participants with skills to enter well-paying jobs in Detroit's fast-growing health care and information technology sectors.

Demand-driven programs like 3DT, and those of our many other partners across the city, are powerful tools for ensuring all Detroiters have the opportunity to share in the rewards of Detroit’s revitalization.

Gregory Davis, a graduate of Focus: Hope, a JPMorgan Chase-supported training program that helps Detroiters build in-demand skills. After completing the program, Davis was hired by Detroit Manufacturing Systems.

Opening the Doors to Opportunity for Detroit’s Youth

Talent is distributed evenly. Opportunity is not.

It's a point Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, among others, has made, and it’s one that is starkly apparent in Detroit. More than 55 percent of Detroit's children live in poverty. The city has a 30 percent youth unemployment rate — the highest among the 25 largest U.S. metro areas. Only 62 percent of the city’s African-American and 55 percent of its Latino young men are graduating from high school. More than 30 percent of young people in Detroit's lower-income African-American neighborhoods are neither working nor in school.

In Detroit, as in too many communities around the world, young people of color and young people from distressed neighborhoods are being shut out of opportunity. JPMorgan Chase is working to help change that reality.

In 2016 our firm launched New Skills for Youth, a $75 million global initiative to expand high-quality career-focused education programs that lead to well-paying jobs and long-term careers. These programs can truly transform lives by showing students that there are many pathways to success, including ones that do not require pursuing a four-year degree right after high school.

As part of this initiative, we are investing $4 million to support work by the United Way of Southeastern Michigan to strengthen college and career pathways for students at 20 Detroit high schools. JPMorgan Chase joins the Skillman Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Ford Motor Company Fund as part of a coalition working to connect 10,000 Detroit high school students over the next three years with career education and work experiences to boost employment.

Our support will enable the United Way to expand its Linked Learning initiative, a career-oriented education program. Through Linked Learning's curriculum and work-based learning, students earn credentials, qualifying them for career pathways and college, in growing industries such as advanced manufacturing, health care, information technology, digital communications, engineering and public service.

“As parents fight to encourage their children to stay in school in hopes that they have a brighter future, it's an uphill battle without access and opportunity that our youth can see,” said Sharlonda Buckman, CEO, Detroit Parent Network. “With support from JPMorgan Chase, the Linked Learning approach is an opportunity to affirm parents' resolve to push and support their youth and the relevance of their education experience.”

By creating more opportunities for Detroit’s young people, JPMorgan Chase is helping lay the foundation for a real, lasting and broadly shared recovery.