Detroit summer youth program adapts with paid virtual job-shadowing

May 17, 2020, 10:14 AM

Everything except the weather will be different this summer. That includes entertainment, sports, other recreation, dining out and summer jobs.

A money-making opportunity for young Detroiters has scrambled to adapt. 

"Every summer, more than 8,000 Detroit youth age 14-24 find jobs, training and a paycheck through Grow Detroit’s Young Talent," says a Covid-response update at its site.

In doing so, they not only participate in meaningful work experiences and training that helps them gain the confidence and skills they need to build a career, but they are also able to contribute to the financial well-being of their family.

This year more than ever, we need to ensure our young people have productive work opportunities and the means to support themselves and their families in this tough economy, but we realize the need to do so in a responsible manner that protects the health of youth and employers.

That's why this summer, GDYT is expanding its summer opportunities to include more online work-readiness training and online paid training. We’ll also offer work experiences that can be completed while observing guidelines for social distancing. Experiences will be available via computer, tablet or smartphone.

Marie Hocker, executive director
(Photo: Facebook)

Deatils about the pivot are at Crain's Detroit Business this week.

Before the coronavirus crisis hit, employers had already committed to taking 5,000 of Grow Detroit's Young Talent's average 8,000 job slots per year, said Marie Hocker, the program's executive director.

"So immediately our team went into action," Hocker said, to understand which businesses could switch to remote work instead of in-person. She estimates that employers and industry-led training providers could convert just 700 jobs.

The Grow Detroit team then went where its participants will go this summer: online. They looked at how they could simulate real-world work for the rest of the participants, and decided to use two software platforms through Dearborn-based Educational Data Systems Inc. and ...

Participants 14-16 years old will be paid to go through career exploration resource Virtual Job Shadow. They'll learn about education requirements needed to enter a variety of fields and potential earnings, Hocker said. Grow Detroit will pay around $50,000 for 5,000 participant slots.

On Educational Data Systems' training platform, those 17-24 years old can engage with employers in high-growth industries digitally through projects and workshops. Participants will be able to enroll in occupational training in manufacturing, IT, health care, construction and customer service. ... To earn their stipends, the youths will need to do individual and group assignments and a capstone project.

Foundations and employers pay for Grow Detroit. Hocker expects this summer's program to cost $11.7 million, down about $200,000 from 2019, reports Annalise Frank of Crain's. 

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