Detroit’s First Comprehensive Green Jobs Training Program

Our first workforce training program operated for over a decade and its positive impacts continue to be felt by Detroit residents to this day. At the time, our program was the city’s only comprehensive green jobs training program. It existed in partnership with Clark Atlanta University’s Environmental Justice Resource Center and Laborers-AGC Education and Training Fund, was approved by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and was accredited through the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University (New Orleans, LA). The 12-week program delivered job training skills for the emerging Green Economy and built community, business and university relationships. Similar programs were also implemented in New Orleans, Atlanta, Dallas, and Baton Rouge. Our operation trained up to 500 Detroit workers and was a leading member in this coalition of green job programs.

From Start to Finish 

The program provided participants with basic skills, technical and green job skills training, certifications, on-site job training, practice with soft skills training (teamwork, interpersonal relationships), as well as job placement assistance.

Basic Skills

  • Study skills
  • Mathematics
  • Introduction to hazardous materials
  • Physical fitness
  • Computer basics
  • Life skills
  • Job readiness

A counseling component to the program provided students with problem intervention and assistance, and information on a wide range of social services to aid them in achieving their educational and vocational goals. 

Green Tracks

Participants had opportunities to acquire skills in the following environmental/green work fields:

  • Energy Audits/Retrofitting: Energy audits evaluate a system (such as a building) to understand its energy use. Retrofitting is the adding of new technology or features to an existing building to make it more energy efficient. 
  • Computer Aided Design (CAD): the use of computer technology to aid in the design and drafting of a part, a product, or entire buildings.
  • Deconstruction: the selective disassembly of building components, specifically for reuse, recycling and reducing waste. It is a way of salvaging the value in a building that is to be taken down. 
  • Geothermal systems: Ground source heat pumps use the natural warmth of the Earth to heat and cool your building. 
  • Green Landscaping: a method of designing and maintaining yards, gardens, and larger areas to reduce harm to the environment, save time and money with lower maintenance, and have healthier places to work and play.

Training and Certification 

The program included state-administered certification testing for each technical segment. After satisfactory completion of the program, each participant received Asbestos, Lead, and Mold Hazardous Waste Worker Certification (HAZWOPER), an OSHA 10 workplace card, and First Aid/CPR certification. 

Job Placement and Career Training

Throughout the training, participants worked with a job coach to acquire skills like resume building, interviewing techniques, and other career development skills. 

DWEJ Apprenticeship Readiness Program 

This program, created in 2013, accelerated career opportunities for Detroit residents in the building trades and labor unions by bridging the “skills gap” for individuals who lacked the necessary skills needed to become craft professionals. The DWEJ Apprenticeship Readiness Program was a 12-week training program designed to develop, observe and evaluate the progressive development of job readiness, skill assessment and curriculum comprehension of participants. 

Training included:

  1. Workshops: Candidates were required to attend all four workshops before entering the training program. Workshops were designed to give students personal and career building tools necessary for success in career planning in the building trades, job search skills, financial literacy, as well as personal development with an emphasis on positive self-esteem, responsibility taking, enhanced interpersonal skills (i.e. motivation, punctuality, reliability, team building, task completion), and workplace diversity. A final workshop was offered on the “fundamentals of environmental literacy”, i.e., the basics of environmental science, best practices and how to apply them in a green and built environment.
  2. Classroom and Technical Training (12 weeks): The Construction Craft Laborer core-curriculum was part of one of 70 craft areas taught. This curriculum introduced the trainee to a variety of trades, including carpentry, masonry, ironworking, electrical, welding, heavy equipment, and crane operation. Upon completion of this two-level course, trainees had the basic knowledge needed on any job site.  The Construction Craft Laborer curriculum covered subjects such as, Site Layout, Reinforcing Concrete, and Electrical Safety. 
  3. Hands-on and Practical Experience: Trainees received on-the-job-training so that they developed the skills necessary to becoming an apprentice, and to develop the skills and proficiency of a journeyman worker. Training was under the direction and guidance of the instructor and project supervisor. 
  4. Module Examination and Testing: Trainees needed to score 70% or higher in each of the  9 modules to receive a certification of completion from the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER). 
  5. Performance Testing: Trainees needed to perform each task to the satisfaction of the instructor in order to receive a certificate of completion. Demonstrations were used to satisfy the performance test requirements.
  6. Placement and Follow-up: Through the Partnerships for Diversity & Opportunity and the websites, program applicants were able to directly apply to job openings. DWEJ’s community partners and Employment Advisory Council members were also committed to actively seeking placement for program graduates.  DWEJ would then follow-up with placements for one year through our Constituent Relationship Management system.
  7. Evaluation: The program was internally evaluated throughout its delivery process, with the goal of continuously improving each component of the program. An external evaluator was used to assist with end-of-grant reporting to the Kellogg Foundation, who funded the program.  Program metrics were used to help determine outcomes and the overall success of the initiative. 

Following the success of the Green Job Training Program, we launched Future Build Construction Group in 2017. This social enterprise was created to meet the growing need for green construction in Detroit and to hire our trainees. Today, our workforce program continues to evolve and remains integral to our mission.

Share This