Building a
New Detroit Workforce

Anthony Kashat's Story

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Part of Detroit’s resurgence is removing the old to make way for the new. But what happens when there’s a shortage of workers to make it all happen in an environmentally forward way?

Take, for example, the many abandoned and blighted homes in Detroit.  Once a home is ready to be torn down, it has to be surveyed for any toxic materials or pollutants on site—most commonly lead and asbestos. Then, those materials have to be removed in a clean and safe manner.

For years, DWEJ’s Workforce Training program has helped train Detroiters in aspects of this work. But recently, demand has increased for workers who can build on their initial training and grow into more advanced positions—with better pay. That’s why DWEJ has developed its Future Build program, which advances the skills of Detroiters who have basic work training, employing them in living-wage jobs with a focus on repairing and protecting the environment.

“As the head of an environmental service company, I’m not looking for laborers,” says Anthony Kashat, principal and co-founder of AKT Peerless, which provides environmental and energy solutions in Detroit and beyond. “I need individuals who have a foundation of training and want to take their career in the next direction.”

Kashat, who has partnered closely with DWEJ on the Workforce Training program since its inception—even hiring trainees who completed the curriculum—says he’s now eager for more help through Future Build.

“I’m looking to hire people who can do environmental survey work,” he says. Because his company has large numbers of homes slated for demolition, he needs surveyors who can assess whether there’s asbestos or lead in the home, and identify any toxic materials present. The surveyors then generate a report, which Kashat gives to the abatement companies so the toxic materials can be removed safely.

“We’ll pay these people, and get them the training and experience they need,” Kashat says. “But they have to be ready to take their career to the next level.”

He says Future Build is a missing link—a program that gives people with entry-level skills the opportunity to advance. “It can help the right people be able to grow.”

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