According to 2016 data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau Flint has the highest poverty rate in the nation among U.S. cities with at least 65,000 residents. The pundits are saying that this is a result of Flint relying on one industry for far too long.
Regardless of how this happened, the recent poverty statistics are very disturbing and are a strong indication that we need to continue diversifying the economy and developing workforce strategies so that we don’t ever find ourselves reliant on a single industry again. If you look closely at the Flint & Genesee economy today you will see that our diversification strategy is gaining traction. And there’s still much work to be done.
While Flint’s unemployment rate is still too high, it has steadily declined, and that’s a good thing. The challenge isn’t solely the lack of jobs, because there are many jobs. Just visit mitalent.org. The challenge oftentimes, is finding individuals with the skills that match up with what businesses are looking for.
To address the “skills gap” and jobs issues, the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce has a multipronged approach.
Through our education and training programs we help residents get jobs. For example, high school students who graduate from TeenQuest, a five-week, pre-employment training program, have the opportunity to interview for a job. About 400-600 TeenQuest graduates are hired annually for summer jobs. For some, it’s their first job and excitedly their first paycheck. And that experience often leads to full-time permanent positions.
We’re proud to have over 7,000 TeenQuest alums.
Through Career Edge, a program for individuals who are unemployed, underemployed or in the midst of a career transition, participants are prepared for the job market. There are a lot of people in this community who have great skills and abilities, but may not know how to frame that in an interview, or they may not know which employers are hiring, or what jobs are out there. That’s how Career Edge is helping residents prepare for today’s job market.
We are also working closely with workforce agencies such as GST Michigan Works, and placement agencies to connect individuals to organizations that are working on this every day. They are the ones job seekers should connect with because they not only know about open positions but, they also have access to training programs.
Simply put, there are multiple pathways that job seekers can take. Check out the Flint & Genesee Chamber’s education and training programs, connect with local workforce agencies, and don’t forget to visit the Pure Michigan Talent Connect webpage, which includes useable jobs and career information, including skilled trades, at mitalent.org.