Mayor Mike Duggan recalls the joy of earning his first raise. It was a quarter increase for his job collecting trash in Southfield.
Decades later he sees employment as a source of not only personal accomplishment for youth, but as a community investment. Duggan met with several dozen local business owners and agencies Wednesday to announce a plan to hire 8,000 Detroiters, ages 14 to 24. As part of the Grow Detroit’s Young Talent initiative, the young people would work a minimum of six weeks at various city locations during summer 2016.
“When I started the first year (as mayor) it was about, ‘When are we gonna get the street lights turned on? When is the trash gonna get picked up? When are the buses coming?’” Duggan says. “These are things that are celebrated in Detroit, but we’re getting past those things.”
Preparing young Detroiters to achieve academically and professionally is among his administration’s current priorities, he told the employers gathered at Strategic Staffing Solutions in downtown’s Penobscot Building. Hiring partners in the initiative would commit to placing youth on jobs for 20 hours per week at $850, with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent matching the amount and managing payroll, work readiness training, and support services, like transportation.
Grow Detroit’s Young Talent’s aims to recruit employers who will provide youth with six weeks of professional development in their respective industries.
“You’re going to give them, if you choose to do this, that kind of experience,” says Cindy Pasky, CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions, a facilitating agency.
Last year 140 employees participated, hiring 5,600 people. Already committed to hiring 2,000 cadets in 2016 are the Detroit Police and Fire Departments. DTE Energy employs 300 youth through the program each year, including college students home for summer break.
Duggan says his time working at the Detroit Medical Center, which hired youth, shows the benefits of early professional development. Today, some of the young people are doctors, while others “figured out they couldn’t stand the sight of blood,” which also proved to be valuable knowledge, he says.
Eligible youth will be recruited based on grade point average, neighborhood location and interest. Youth support specialists will help train and educate participants in professional dress, the job interview process, and related preparation.
Already Duggan says he’s eyeing the next phase of professional opportunity the city and its partners can create for youth. “Elite Interns” would give youth who’ve earned positive performance reviews in their first summer with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent a chance to work in more specialized areas of personal interest, such as jobs with Detroit sports teams.
“The first year it’s enough to show up and do a good job,” he says, “and now I can apply to do something I like.”
Along with the experience and the summer cash the program provides, Duggan called Grow Detroit’s Young Talent a means of exposing youth to professional mentoring.
“Some of these kids don’t have role models in their neighborhoods who they see getting up and going to work every day,” he says.
Prospective employers are asked to sign up for Grow Detroit’s Young Talent by visiting www.gdyt.org.