Skilled trades program expands at Randolph High

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — A long-neglected vocational school on the city’s west side will get new life this school year after city officials and the Detroit Public Schools Community District unveiled Monday the newly improved Randolph Career Technical Education Center.

This fall, the center at 17101 Hubbell will offer skilled trades training to 300 youth during the day and 300 adults in the evenings.

The building’s revitalization was made possible through $10 million in funding and in-kind contributions. Among the top supporters: $3.5 million from the Gordie Howe Bridge Workforce Training program, $1.75 million from the City of Detroit Workforce Training Fund, $1.5 million from the Wilson Foundation and $1.1 million from DTE Energy Co.

Mayor Mike Duggan called the effort the coming together of community to invest in the next generation of Detroit workers. Duggan explained Tuesday how the program would work for 10th- through 12th-graders as well as for adults.

“Half a day here you can get a good education at (DPSCD) and you can also be well on your way to a career that is a good paying job for the rest of your life,” Duggan said.

“We need to invest in our students and young people, but we also have a lot of adults out there who are looking for skills. We said if we’re going to put $10 million into this facility, can we use the same space and the same equipment to train adults in need of it.”

The $10 million includes classroom renovations, equipment and safety materials for each program. The funds also cover instructional support.

Duggan said training for adults will begin in the evenings in October and will run at full scale by the end of the year. The first courses will include a construction basic skills course and offer literacy and numeracy support and a preapprenticeship program.

The rebuilding of the center’s training program comes at a time when the Metro Detroit area has seen a need for skilled trades workers from the city of Detroit. Contractors have been fined, including those working on Little Caesars Arena, for not hiring enough Detroiters.

Detroit Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said that in his first 60 days in office, he talked with various stakeholders who expressed a need to restore career technical education.

“There was a need to create multiple pathways for children,” Vitti said. “We inspire all of our children to go to college, but we realize that all our children have different talents, different interests ... that are not often actualized by our curriculum and our programs.

“What will begin this year at Randolph is a great example of giving our students multiple pathways in order to be successful and reach their God-given academic and civic potential.”

Jay Williams, DTE project manager and Randolph Career alumnus, said the school looks nothing like it did when he went there in the 1990s. After graduating from Cass Technical High School, he took an adult program in drafting.

“It’s just an amazing school. I have a lot of love for this school. It’s so different now,” he said. “The walls were dark. As you can see, the walls are now white. There’s LED illumination.”

Williams noted changes in programming will benefit those seeking careers in the city.

“This school is going to be what’s going to help the kids in Detroit not just stay out of jail and not just graduate from high school, but to become thriving growing members of this society, and that is what’s important,” he said.

Students at Randolph will prepare for careers for entry-level positions that range from $13 to $22 an hour. Programming includes carpentry, masonry, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, CAD, heavy equipment simulation and entrepreneurship.

Students and families are invited to attend one of two open house events to tour the building and see classroom updates. The first will be 1-7 p.m. Wednesday and the second open house will be 3-7 p.m. Sept. 6.

Twitter: CWilliams_DN