Column: Operating engineers keep Detroit running
Detroit is a city on the move. There’s a reason people across the country are talking about Detroit’s comeback.
New restaurants, entertainment venues and housing complexes are opening all the time. Detroit is truly the place to be. But we know all the progress in the world means nothing if it doesn’t affect and involve the residents and citizens of the city. That is exactly why Operating Engineers 324 is working harder than ever to make the city and metro area a better place for residents, and invite them to explore the careers in the building trades.
Operating Engineers 324 is proud to have a state-of-the-art training facility in the city, the Stationary Engineer Career Center in the heart of Corktown. This school is running classes year round to educate and train the stationary engineers of tomorrow in boiler maintenance, HVAC systems and heating and cooling systems.
These skills lead to good paying careers — many of them right in the city. We represent the engineers keeping our children safe and warm in the Detroit Public Schools Community District, protecting the art at the DIA and maintaining the ice at the new Little Caesars Arena, among others.
We also represent the heavy equipment operators building and repairing roads and bridges, as well as businesses and houses in the city. Construction jobs are booming in Michigan right now. University of Michigan economists have found that 21,900 jobs will be added to Michigan’s construction industry within two years. And much of the activity is in Detroit.
Long before it was mandatory to employ a percentage of Detroit residents on projects, we were doing exactly that, and our outreach has only grown.
For years, we’ve been working with programs to provide sustainable construction careers for residents of Detroit. We’re a constant presence and often organizer at recruitment and education events like Southwest Solutions Career Fair, city of Detroit National Veterans Career Expo, Detroit Construction Science Expo, Mi Road 2 Work and the Cass Tech and Cody High School Career Fairs.
We work with the Randolph Career and Technical School in DPSCD to develop curriculum and help shepherd Detroit students interested in a construction career to learning the skills that will serve them throughout their professional lives, no matter what trade they choose. This school has the potential to unlock opportunities for hundreds of Detroit children every year, and we are excited to be working with them to achieve exactly this.
In August, the Workforce of the Future coalition will graduate its first class from a new 16-week youth pilot program that has been designed to combine classroom career readiness training and on-site job shadowing. This summer has already seen the graduation of two sets of Access For All cohorts. Access For All is a program that prepares unemployed and underemployed Detroit residents for entry into an apprenticeship program and places them with the trade of their choice upon graduation. Our group has been involved with both programs since their inception, and looks to long futures with both.
These are just some of the community involvement we are engaged with right now. There are Operating Engineers on many Detroit boards, councils and committees, constantly pushing forward to involve the city and its residents in the opportunities and successes.
We are committed to training even more Detroit workers in the future. We know that Detroit can only flourish if residents have access to good-paying careers.
Douglas W. Stockwell is business manager of Operating Engineers 324.