The most recent American Community survey data for Detroit (the average of 2007-2011 surveys) finds 36.2 percent of individuals and 31.1 percent of families are living in poverty. Education and training for this potential workforce is critical. Many of Detroit’s people have been unemployed for years and need updated so-called ‘hard skills,’ such as technical knowledge. Some have never had the opportunity to hold a job and need to be trained in ‘soft skills,’ such as dealing with the public or presenting themselves well during a job interview. Even highly skilled workers sometimes need training in people skills and areas such as conflict management, digital literacy, problem solving and teamwork. A combination of soft and hard skills help workers land a job, keep it, and build a career. (DJA, Shared Prosperity, 2013). And, support for basic support services, including transportation, will be critical to employment for low-income Detroiters without access to reliable means of transportation.
DJA has begun to engage employers and work with community-based organizations, workforce agencies and educational institutions to better define the need and opportunity to make an impact in this area. DJA recently co-sponsored an event in partnership with DJA member Workforce Intelligence Network to begin a dialog with employers and community stakeholders about this critical issue.