$5M Grant to Automation Alley Supports High-Level IT Training for 1,350

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After receiving a $5 million grant for the U.S. Department of Labor to help further training for metro Detroit companies’ information technology employees four years ago, Troy-based Automation Alley announced it has trained nearly 1,350 people with more than 100 receiving promotions as a result of the program.

“(The U.S. Department of Labor’s goal was to) develop U.S talent so that companies don’t have to go abroad to find highly-skilled, highly-professional people to do the work businesses need to do business and grow,” says Karol Friedman, director of talent development at Automation Alley, a non-profit technology business association.

Friedman says the program was funded by the Department of Labor as a way to reduce companies hiring employees with a H-1B visa, which allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.

Through a competitive grant process, Automation Alley received $5 million to offer high-level training in the IT field.

“An individual company had to agree to hire a low-skilled candidate,” Friedman says. “From their recruiting efforts, they would identify somebody that didn’t quite meet their skill set needs, but we would then supplement that person’s abilities by paying for training that the company would choose. The company would then employ that person on a full-time regular basis.”

She says 33 local companies participated in the program, including Beaumont Health System, Detroit Labs, Kelly Services, and Delphi Automotive Systems. The average new salary for employees in the program was $62,756, and nearly 390 minorities, more than 170 veterans, and about 330 women were trained.

“(The program provided) customized training, or just-in-time training,” Friedman says. “It happened at the moment the company needed it to meet their customers’ needs.”

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