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Federal grant will power "unprecedented" jobs training for struggling Detroiters

Focus: HOPE

A $5 million U.S. Department of Labor grant will help the city of Detroit provide more job training and placement services.

The initiative will target some of the hardest-to-employ city residents — particularly returning prisoners.

It will also pair skills training with job availability, said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

“Nothing’s more discouraging than training somebody for a job that isn’t really there,” Duggan said. “So we want to assess this, and do every bit of training for jobs that are available today.”

The city will also partner with the Michigan Department of Corrections and one to-be-determined corrections facility to prepare prisoners for specific jobs a year before their scheduled release.

The initiative is modeled after a program in Montgomery County, Maryland, which has reportedly found jobs for 95% of its participants.

Damone Mattison says that approach worked for him. After serving seven years in prison, he’s now a skilled machinist for Sakthi Automotive in Detroit.

“Having a job has really given me an opportunity to rebuild my life, and also be a positive member in the community,” Mattison said.

The grant will also boost training programs for veterans, disabled people, and the long-term unemployed.

The program’s initial phase aims to get 1,500 Detroiters employed. Duggan says it should be up and running by fall. 

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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