New Skilled-Trade Academy Offers Detroiters Jobs & Energy Efficient Home Repairs

Source: 1/23/2023, Location: North America

DTE Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider, has partnered with Walker-Miller Energy Services, one of the country’s largest African American and woman-owned energy efficiency companies, to launch the Energy Efficiency Academy. The Academy directly responds to the growing demand for energy-efficient home repairs in Detroit, while also building a local workforce that will benefit the community for years to come.

The Academy launched in the Fall of 2022 with a class of 10 participants. Growing from it’s first-year learnings, the Academy will kick-off the 2023 program year this spring aiming to quadruple its participants.

“We are creating jobs for Detroiters and building a talent pipeline for a Michigan industry on the rise,” said Carla Walker-Miller, founder and chief executive officer, Walker-Miller Energy Services. “We’re honored and excited to partner with DTE Energy for this initiative; inviting residents to participate in the growing clean energy economy, with all its important benefits. This is a huge win, not only for our organization, but most importantly for the region’s socioeconomic growth.”

According to the Home Builders Institute, 2.2M additional skilled trade hires nationwide are needed now through 2024 to address labor demand, mitigate weakened housing supply and improve affordability. In Detroit, nearly 40,000 owner- and renter-occupied households suffer from inadequate housing conditions, according to the University of Michigan’s Detroit Metro Area Community Study (DMACS).

“We’re committed to creating opportunities and implementing diverse, equitable and inclusive programs that are essential to enriching the communities in which we serve,” said Trevor Lauer, president and chief operating officer, DTE Electric. “Growing a network of diverse contractors specialized in energy-efficient best practices addresses the need for good-paying jobs and increased clean energy measures in two ways – by providing improved incomes and more energy-efficient housing.”

The eight-week paid Energy Efficiency Academy includes both classroom training and field training – working in Detroit homes to implement energy-saving home upgrades or installs. Participants can earn Building Analyst and Home Evaluator certifications through the Building Performance Institute (BPI). Academy participants receive professional guidance and are connected to a recruitment network for entry-level clean energy jobs with starting wages at or above $18 per hour, including benefits, driven by today’s competitive job market. Career pathways in electric, HVAC, insulation, and home performance skilled trades will be accessible for participants who complete the program.

“My experience with this program has been so positive, including the fact that I now have a job helping customers understand energy efficiency,” said Marquise Burnett, energy specialist, Walker-Miller Energy Services. “All the science that goes into how a home operates and its relationship to energy efficiency is taught in this program. It’s exactly what I need to assist customers in how to save energy and money.”

DTE is narrowing the gap of skill-trade workers by spearheading several workforce development programs to attract new talent in the clean energy industry. The Energy Efficiency Academy is the newest in a number of workforce training programs DTE has partnered on including:

• Detroit-based Tree-Trimming Academy (TTA) and Parnell Prison Tree-Trim Training
• Detroit Summer Youth Internship Program
• Power and Trades Pathways Program with Henry Ford College

“We are currently facing an unprecedented number of resources being poured into energy efficiency and home repair programs. By using this opportunity to build a strong local energy workforce today, we will not only support programs improving housing and financial security in Detroit, but we will also be positioning the city to be a future leader in the burgeoning clean energy economy,” said Ben Dueweke, director of Community Partnerships, Walker-Miller Energy Services.

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