8 Detroit hiring centers to help FCA plant job seekers
Detroit — City officials are expected to present more details to the City Council on Thursday on how the city will prepare Detroiters to fill positions at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's proposed plant expansion on the city’s east side.
The city will set up eight hiring centers throughout the city by the end of the year. The automaker has already said it plans to give Detroiters exclusive access for four weeks to apply for the jobs, and ongoing priority for job openings for the life of the plant.
“It’s game-changing in the way that Detroit is working with employers, the way that employers are partnering with us to get Detroiters ready for 21st-century opportunities,” said Nicole Sherard-Freeman, president and CEO of Detroit Employment Solutions Corp., which operates the city's Detroit at Work program.
FCA plans to invest $1.6 billion in expanding its Mack Avenue facilities with a new plant and $900 million to modernize its Jefferson North Assembly Plant. The plant expansion is expected to add 4,950 jobs.
City administration and FCA officials are expected to come before the planning and economic development standing committee Thursday following the body’s vote last week to bring several project-related items back for further discussion. The city has assembled acreage needed for the project and the automaker, the city and a neighborhood advisory council have agreed to a community benefits agreement. The deal awaits City Council approval.
Among concerns raised by council members last week were the hiring of Detroit residents. As part of the community benefits agreement, FCA said it would give Detroit residents first access to apply for jobs. One of the sticking points was that several city council members said they want to see a guarantee from FCA regarding the number or percentage of Detroiters it will hire.
A figure or percentage of Detroit hires will be hard to guarantee, said Tom Lewand, group executive for jobs and economic growth for the mayor’s office, as the United Automobile Workers will have to first fulfill its obligation to hire laid-off employees and temporary workers from the Jefferson North plant. After that, Detroiters will have 100% access to the new jobs, officials said.
The city has seen successful in preparing Detroiters for jobs for other manufacturers, such as Flex N Gate, Lewand said.
“We’re turning out quality candidates and they’re being hired and they’re being welcomed in and hired and highly valued,” he said. “We’re pretty confident with our revised workforce operation we’ll be able to meet that and therefore get 100% of the jobs after UAW priorities.”
The city is under negotiations for the proposed hiring center locations throughout the city: Samaritan Center, Ross Economic Solutions, Development Centers, ACCESS, SER Metro, Serco and Goodwill, ResCare and JVS, Southwest Economic Solutions. Those centers will be ramping up by the end of the year, officials said.
“Those will be intake points for individuals looking to apply both now and, in the future, as they become open,” said Jeff Donofrio, executive director of the mayor’s Workforce Development Team. “Those are not the only intake points that we’ll have for these jobs. We’re going to holding pop ups, we’ll be doing various activities at churches and other locations around the community to make sure that there’s information sessions and application assistance as well.”
The city has said that Detroiters will be given one-month early access: two weeks for those living in the impact area followed by two weeks for all Detroit residents. Hiring will include returning citizens and veterans.
“We’re investing into being sure that Detroiters are aware early and know what the requirements of the job are and have time to pull together all of the background documentation like finding your high school diploma or example,” Sherard-Freeman said. “We’re going to give people a heads up and time to pull those things together and frankly help them brush up on interview skills and really understand what it means to have this kind of opportunity. We’ve not invested in this way because we haven’t had this opportunity in the past.”