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HIRE DETROIT! aims for 25,000 jobs in 2014

Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC) has launched HIRE DETROIT!, an ambitious awareness campaign that targets the sharing of hiring data across workforce partners and employers, with a goal of 25,000 unemployed Detroiters hired in 2014 by Metro Detroit businesses.

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David Baker Lewis with Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Education Secretary Arne Duncan

The launch event, held December 12 at Northwest Activities Center, was attended by U.S. Labor and Education Secretaries Thomas Perez and Arne Duncan, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and over 200 Detroit employers and other workforce and education partners.

In his opening remarks, Mayor Bing thanked the attendees for their commitment, and said “As we look at fixing our city, we’ve got to make sure we don’t forget about the people who are unemployed here.”

“As you start to look at the opportunities here in Detroit, make sure you don’t forget about hiring people from Detroit. That’s very important.  It’s the way we are going to bring our city back.”

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DESC CEO Pamela Moore

DESC President and CEO Pamela Moore presented the goals of HIRE DETROIT!, outlining plans for sharing data about new hires so that the citizens of Detroit can see that the opportunities are real, and also encouraging businesses to hire at least one unemployed Detroiter during 2014.

She also outlined some of the services that DESC provides to both jobseekers and businesses, saying “We have an array of services and programs and funding streams.  We can provide supportive services to individuals, individual training accounts, customized training for employers, we are flexible and we need to leverage our resources, partner, and be innovative.  We need new solutions.”

In a conversation that followed (moderated by Detroit Workforce Development Board Chair David Baker Lewis), U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez agreed.  “You have to make sure you’re not fighting yesterday’s battles, using yesterday’s models.  The key to today’s models is that we are industry-driven.”

“The partnership between employers who are in this room, local workforce boards, community colleges and other institutions of higher learning, key non-profit players, key leaders in the business community – that’s what success is about.  I see all the building blocks of success here.”

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan echoed Secretary Perez’ comments, focusing specifically on the role of educational institutions:  “Yes we need employer guidance, yes we need their partnership, they need to help shape the curriculum, but we just can’t look at the employers and say “You’re not hiring” – we have to look in the mirror and do a much better job of giving people the skills not of 30 years ago but of tomorrow.”

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez tours the One-Stop at Northwest Activities Center
U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez tours a One-Stop Service Center

A town hall meeting was then moderated by DESC Board Chair Cal Sharp.  Members of the audience asked a variety of questions of a panel that included Acting Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Eric Seleznow, and Assistant Secretary of Vocational and Adult Education Brenda Dann-Messier.

Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier wrapped up the session by saying “Eric and I will be very happy to come back and spend a much longer time with you, and talk very specifically about the opportunities and the work that we’re doing at the federal level to support you here in Detroit” to which Cal Sharp replied:  “Thank you – we’ll definitely take you up on that.”

Pamela Moore then closed the event by thanking attendees for their time and commitment, and reiterated the requirement for a successful partnership between employers and workforce providers as HIRE DETROIT! moves forward.

“If you are an employer we want you to partner with us, utilize our services.  We can be your HR arm, or you can direct hire. If you’re a community-based partner, join our effort to prepare Detroiters for these opportunities.  To our media partners, help us advertise the number of Detroit hires. Philanthropic partners in the room, let’s discuss sustaining this model.  And to our unemployed Detroiters – the most important group we’ve been talking about today – there is hope for new opportunity.”

Detroit Employment Solutions will be reaching out to businesses and partners around the city during the remainder of December and into the New Year. Those requiring further information can email HireDetroit@detempsol.org or follow @Hire_Detroit on Twitter.