A new academy from DTE Energy Co. and a Detroit-based energy services firm is paying and training Detroiters to join the skilled trades to make home improvements that improve energy efficiency.
In Detroit, nearly 40,000 owner- and renter-occupied households lack adequate housing conditions, according to the University of Michigan’s 2021 Detroit Metro Area Community Study. DTE partners with companies like Walker-Miller Energy Services to get customers new windows, roofs, heating and air conditioning systems and other updates so their homes better retain heat in the winter and cool air in the summers. But there aren’t enough workers to do the labor, the companies said.
That’s why they launched in the fall the Energy Efficiency Academy, an eight-week, paid training formally announced on Monday. The program positions participants with the certifications needed and connections into a starting role paying at least $18 per hour with benefits, according to the companies, in electric, HVAC, insulation and home performance skilled trades.
“We are creating jobs for Detroiters and building a talent pipeline for a Michigan industry on the rise,” Carla Walker-Miller, CEO of the energy services company, said in a statement. “This is a huge win, not only for our organization, but most importantly for the region’s socioeconomic growth.”
The program includes classroom training as well as field work in Detroit homes learning how to make the upgrades. Participants can earn building analyst and home evaluator certifications through the Building Performance Institute. The academy connects graduates into a recruitment network.
The first class of 10 participants began in the fall. DTE and Walker-Miller expect to quadruple that for the next class that kicks off this spring.
Now through 2024, 2.2 million additional skilled trade hires nationwide are needed to address labor demand, mitigate weakened housing supply and improve affordability, according to the Home Builders Institute.
The program is the latest from DTE emphasizing workforce development, including a summer internship program and a trades pathway with Henry Ford College. It also has a tree-trimming academy in Detroit as well as at the Parnall Correctional Facility in Jackson.
“We’re committed to creating opportunities and implementing diverse, equitable and inclusive programs that are essential to enriching the communities in which we serve,” Trevor Lauer, DTE Electric’s chief operating officer, said in a statement. “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.”