All Posts, Press Release

Launching the Workforce of the Future


Students get professional trades industry training & tours of Southeast Michigan Construction Companies

DETROIT, MI: The Detroit Workforce of the Future and Career Readiness coalition has carved a new pathway for students to go beyond Career Training Education. These open-minded companies, some who are direct competitors, are working together to teach a student ‘Jobs for MI Graduates’ (JMG) Student cohort, the next generation of the workforce, by providing real, actionable and interactive knowledge about working in construction.

For the 6th consecutive year, the Detroit Workforce of the Future coalition, made up of professional trades and contractors in SE Michigan, has worked in conjunction with the Detroit Employment Solutions, Inc JMG program. Together they strive to teach valuable skills to Detroit students about hands-on work in construction.

To enter the program, which began in February and culminates with a graduation event on August 8, students were interviewed from Chandler Park, Cody, and Osborn Detroit High Schools and Randolph Career & Technical Center by facilitators in the Jobs for MI Grads program and 26 were chosen for this paid training and awareness program.

Major components to being chosen included knowledge and interest in pre-apprenticeship construction, being on track to graduate from high school and having a positive outlook on their personal future. This robust program included 10 training classes over a 10 week period with the Liuna Training of Michigan and Operating Engineers 324, followed by 6 weeks of exposure to construction projects on location with 6 hiring employers.

A continuing tradition, since 2019, involved a 3-day community project where students participated in neighborhood cleanup alongside the Michigan Laborers, Operating Engineers, and Carpenters.

On August 8th, the DWF coalition will host an event at the Operating Engineers 324 Stationary Engineer Career Center at 5:30pm to recognize these students and industry partners, effectively ‘graduating’ them from the 16 week program of construction industry knowledge and potentially announcing new hires and pre-apprenticeship contracts.

The coalition consists of business partners that know that they have got to strengthen their youth employment base or in order to staff the heavy influx of new and upcoming planned work. This year’s partnering employers include AJAX Paving Industries, Angelo Iafrate Construction, Barton Malow, Blaze Construction, Bridging North America Gordie Howe Bridge Project, Cadillac Asphalt, and StoneCo. The 10 week training was conducted by Liuna Training of Michigan & Operating Engineers 324 at the Operating Engineers 324 Stationary Engineer Career Center where students completed their OSHA 30 certification and met for all summer training.


“It is essential that we identify, attract, and retain the next generation of skilled tradespeople. We are proud to be part of the coordinated efforts to reach that goal, and the Detroit Workforce of the Future is a great example of what we can do together to help make it a reality.”
– Lee Graham, Executive Director, Operating Engineers 324 Labor Management Education Committee.

Interested in a deeper story? Meet the students and company representatives at the graduation celebration August 8th 5:30pm – 7:30pm at the Operating Engineers 324 Stationary Career Center, 1550 Howard Street, Detroit for comments on their experience with the Detroit Workforce of the Future program.
Speakers include the students themselves, industry leaders and professional trades group and our special guest Dana Williams, Chief Strategy Officer, Detroit at Work.
Contact Melissa Wilson for more information: 248-240-7166

Detroit Workforce of the Future and Career Readiness Program: Established in 2016 by a sub-committee of the Construction Science Expo, the DWF creates active pathways for youth to strengthen their knowledge, interest and career plans through hands-on exposure in the construction industry. DWF received a 2018 Going Pro Grant by the Michigan Department of Talent and Investment Agency. The coalition is comprised of Detroit Employment Solutions Corp, GDYT, JMG, MI Laborers and Operating Engineers 324 career centers, MITA, Edw. C. Levy corporation, MI Paving and Materials Company, Angelo Iafrate Construction Co, Ideal Contracting, Dan’s Excavating, Toebe Construction, CA Hull, Cadillac Asphalt, AJAX Paving, Michigan Aggregates Association, Cody, Pershing and Osborn High Schools in Detroit and Pathway X Events.

Construction Science Expo: A coalition of 27 companies, including the Black Caucus Foundation, professional labor unions, construction and design companies, engineering associations and colleges and have been working to fill the construction career pipeline since 2010. The annual Expo event is held in Detroit at the Michigan Science Center.