Labor secretary tell Detroit Job Corps students they have the tools for success

Christian Peck-Dimit
The Detroit News

"You are the future of your city," U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh told students in a visit to the Detroit Job Corps Center on Wednesday.

"I want everyone in this room, particularly the young people, and the older people like myself, to be successful," Walsh said. "So we're going to do everything we can to put you on a pathway to success, because you are the future of your city, you're the future of your state, you're the future of your country."

Members of the Detroit Job Corps Center's elected student government then gave Walsh a tour of the campus, showing him where they learn, study and live.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh met with students in a visit to the Detroit Job Corps Center on Wednesday.

The center is one of 131 Job Corps programs in the United States. Administered by the U.S. Department of Labor since its formation in 1964, the Job Corps helps young people age 16 to 24 finish their high school education while providing vocational training and helping them find jobs. Eighty students currently participate in the Detroit Job Corps while the center works back up toward its maximum capacity of 296 students following COVID restrictions. Students can stay for up to two years unless special additional time is needed.

Walsh spent time speaking directly with each student after his tour. Students were grouped up into four areas of technical training: office administration, electrical, facilities maintenance, and security and protective services, 

While speaking with the security group, he called over three members of his security detail in attendance, and had them answer questions the students had. 

One female student told Walsh's female head of security that pressure-point control-tactics training was her favorite part of learning because "it's the only time we can get the boys on the mats."

Walsh then sat down with members of student government. One asked Walsh how he can reduce the unemployment rate in poor communities. In his response, Walsh referenced the overall unemployment rate, which was 3.6% in June according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and compared it to the black unemployment rate, which was 5.8%.

The answer, he said, was, "Really making sure that we're preparing people for good jobs, so they have the skills, and trades and ability to work."

Regional Director Zina Watkins said the Department of Labor is trying to make the Job Corps as relevant today as it was nearly 60 years ago when it was created.

“We have a 2.0 strategic plan that we’re working on to adjust every element of the program, how we recruit students, how we train them, how we connect them to employers. Then we’re also looking to partner with employers that offer students career ladders, an opportunity that they can start and build, companies they can grow in.”