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JP Morgan Chase adds $1.3 million investment to train Detroit's workforce

Sep 27, 2016

JP Morgan Chase is investing an additional $1.3 million to develop training programs for workers in Detroit. 

It's part of a  a $100 million commitment the financial services magnate has made to invest in Detroit's economic recovery.

Chauncey Lennon is the head of workforce initiatives at JP Morgan Chase. He says workers need to have so-called "soft skills", like teamwork and communication. But many of today's in-demand jobs also require greater technical expertise. 

"When we think about some of the growing and strong sectors in Detroit, things like information technology, manufacturing, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, transportation and logistics, all of those, you don't necessarily need a four-year degree, but you do typically need some sort of post-secondary training."

The money will go to local training partners to help develop programs to teach the skills employers need workers to have, while also making jobs and training more accessible to people in Detroit. 

The Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation and the United Way for Southeast Michigan will all receive a portion of the $1.3 million.

Lennon says it's important that workforce training programs work both with employers and Detroit residents to be best effective. 

"At the same time that we're trying to meet the needs of employers, we're also trying to build these strong career pathways. So all Detroiters understand how they can begin to develop the skills, so they have opportunities over time to build up their skills, (and) they're able to find good jobs in these growing sectors."

Lennon credits Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan's office, local training providers and business owners for working to build a training network in Detroit that focuses on helping more workers learn in-demand skills.

One of the challenges facing these training programs is finding a way to make sure Detroit residents actually get involved. Lennon says not everyone is ready to dive into intensive on-the-job training.

Introductory training programs therefore are an important part of the solution.

The Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation will use the money to develop pre-apprenticeships designed to teach workers fundamental skills, while opening the door to more opportunity.

Similarly, the United Way of Southeast Michigan focuses on construction and manufacturing industries, and training new workers through their "Access for All" program. 

According to Lennon, workforce training is a critical component of sustaining Detroit's economic growth.

"A key piece of how we continue to support Detroit is to have a strong, demand-driven workforce system," Lennon said.