City of Detroit program trains Detroiters for construction jobs

Detroit construction jobs are open but they need Detroiters to fill them and, after a mistake with Little Caesar's Arena, the city is making it happen.

Listen closely and it sounds as business as usual but once you look inside, you'll notice something different: people who never thought to take up carpentry are seeing a spark they didn't see before.  

"If you want something to change you have to be a part of the change. So in order to be a part of the change you have to go forward and take that step to go ahead and do what needs to be done," Allena Dennard.

The Detroiter is taking that step and she's doing what needs to be done. For her, that means enrolling as a carpenter apprentice.  With so much work happening in the city, the market for new workers in construction is as hot as the metal being shaped in Ferndale at The Detroit Carpenters Apprenticeship School.  

"First I am a woman. So there's not a lot of us in here. We already have a lot of 'you can't do this much work, you might not be able to do that work'. Let me show you I can do just as much as you," she said.

With elbow grease and a rock solid appetite for success, a program run by the city of Detroit called STEP or Skilled Trades Employment Program.  It's a step that's leaps and bounds ahead of where the region has been. 

Little Caesars Arena Construction was supposed to have at least 51 percent of its workers from Detroit, but that didn't happen. The lack of trained workers led to fines.  So the city started to fix that.

"To make sure we can get people in training programs that will prevent anyone from saying there weren't enough Detroiters to do that work," Portia Roberson, with the City of Detroit, said. 

Once you join the Union, people working on residential projects can get paid $12 an hour to begin with and then raises come in steps. Commercial  projects command at least $17 an hour. 

Plus - benefits are included.

That and the idea of giving back has Dennard smiling.

"Whatever project comes up I'll have the skill set to do it now.  I'll be able to build the community that Detroit deserves to have," she said.

"There was a long time in Detroit when there wasn't a lot of development going on, there wasn't a lot of building going on.  Some of the people with those skills sets moved away because those jobs weren't here.  Now those jobs are coming back.," Roberson said.

STEP is hosting a career fair this weekend where you can learn more information. CLICK HERE for more information