One Year In… Strengthening Workforce Readiness

Equipping job seekers with the skills they need to fill growing numbers of middle-skill jobs – which pay significantly above minimum wage, provide increased economic security and present an entry point for career mobility – is vital not only to workers, families and neighborhoods, but also to Detroit’s growing economic recovery.

Like many cities, Detroit faces a paradox: the unemployed struggle to find work that will support a stable livelihood, while jobs that would provide exactly that go unfilled. In April 2015, JPMorgan Chase issued a first-of-its-kind analysis of this mismatch, providing a clear picture of the middle-skill opportunities available in Detroit’s healthcare and manufacturing industries.

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Mapping Detroit’s Workforce Needs And Opportunities

JPMorgan Chase’s report, Driving Opportunity in Detroit: Building a Middle-Skill Workforce to Strengthen Economic Recovery and Expand the Middle Class, identifies sectors where employers will be looking to fill jobs. The report also recommends data-driven solutions to help the city better link its workforce training efforts with employer needs. This and similar reports for other cities are a key component of New Skills at Work, JPMorgan Chase’s five-year, $250 million global workforce readiness and demand-driven training initiative.

Middle-skill jobs in detroit

The report found that despite job and population reductions over the past decade, demand remains strong for qualified workers in Detroit. However, the region will need to expand its supply of middle-skill workers to fill these positions


The research reveals that nearly 10,000 middle-skill jobs are projected to open every year in the Detroit area through 2018.

Healthcare and manufacturing

are driving a significant part of the increase in demand for middle-skill workers, representing 56% of the total postings for all middle-skills jobs in Detroit from 2013–2014.


These middle-skill positions, which typically require a high school diploma and some postsecondary training, pay an average median hourly wage of $23.37 in Detroit, significantly higher than the region’s living wage of $17.08.

Yet many residents do not have the right credential to take advantage of these job opportunities: roughly 22% of Detroit city residents lack a high school diploma or GED.

Helping Detroit city residents obtain wellpaying middle-skill jobs must be a regional workforce development priority. In order to meet employer demand, the report offers several strategic recommendations to address the skills gap:

  1. Develop a regional “master plan” to align regional workforce goals and outcomes to prepare Detroit residents for middle-skill occupations in high demand sectors.
  2. Encourage employers, educators and community-based organizations to collaborate by building an employerendorsed curriculum to effectively prepare residents to secure middle-skill industry occupations in the region.
  3. Align talent development investments by public, private and philanthropic stakeholders with industry-focused vision and goals.

We are supporting some of Detroit’s most successful sector-focused training and trade-apprenticeship programs to give more Detroit residents access to training in the skills employers are seeking. We are also supporting summer youth employment programs and a new employment initiative for young men of color working on high-impact projects in hard-hit communities.

Image of student in workforce training

Increasing The Capacity Of Proven Training Providers

JPMorgan Chase invests in proven training providers in Detroit to help them build capacity and expand their efforts to provide job seekers with targeted, demand-driven skills. Our support enabled our partners to expand their training programs to collectively reach more than 400 additional job seekers since May 2014, setting those participants onto career pathways that can help them gain economic security. For example, with JPMorgan Chase’s support:

  • Nearly 300 students participated in workforce training and certification programs, such as Focus: HOPE’s Technical Support Specialist program that provides certification for information technology careers.
  • Our partners, Detroit Regional Workforce Fund and Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, are providing training to prepare 119 jobseekers to apply for apprenticeships in construction and manufacturing.

Helping Young Men Of Color Step Onto The Employment Track

In March 2015, with JPMorgan Chase support, the Youth Development Commission (YDC) of Detroit awarded $220,000 in grant funding to help local nonprofits launch and support high-impact community-based projects, staffed by young men of color, in four of Detroit’s hardest hit neighborhoods: East English Village/Morningside, Jefferson-Chalmers, North End/Boston Edison and Southwest Detroit.

The YDC “Building Blocks” program will fund neighborhood improvement initiatives that strengthen relationships between young men of color and the grassroots neighborhood organizations where they live, as well as prepare the young men for future employment opportunities. The funding will provide a minimum of 150 hours of valuable work experience for the up to 60 young men who participate in the program.

Expanding Summer Youth Employment

Summer jobs are a great way to give Detroit’s youth a chance to earn wages while learning about different careers in the community. They also provide an opportunity to develop leadership skills and a sense of civic responsibility. To help bolster the number of summer jobs available in Detroit, we provided $500,000 in 2014 to City Connect Detroit to expand employment experiences for young people aged 14–21. Funds were used to create 300 new jobs and a special initiative focused on internships in fine arts and performing arts designed to demonstrate to youth that their interests and aptitudes have community value. In addition, through our support for Urban Neighborhood Initiatives, more than 100 young people received job skills training and hands-on work experience in local businesses and social enterprises like Southwest Rides bike shop.

Our employees are also getting involved in helping Detroit’s young people gain valuable skills and learn about career options. In August 2014, more than 50 JPMorgan Chase volunteers from around the United States supported a day-long summit in Detroit on computer coding, technology careers and financial education training for more than 200 high school students. The event was part of Detroit’s Summer Youth Employment Program, which provides underserved youth with summer jobs and career-building experiences.