Habitat for Humanity, OU Partner to Offer Construction Education to Pontiac Students, Residents

Pontiac-based Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County has partnered with Oakland University in Rochester Hills to create a new workforce education initiative designed to help Pontiac school graduates and residents with employment in the construction trade and future homeownership.
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construction program participants at a work site
Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County and OU are helping Pontiac residents gain experience and employment in construction as well as homeownership. // Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County

Pontiac-based Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County has partnered with Oakland University in Rochester Hills to create a new workforce education initiative designed to help Pontiac school graduates and residents with employment in the construction trade and future homeownership.

The Oakland University Pontiac Initiative is collaborating with more than 27 organizations from government, industry, education, and nonprofits as part of the Talent Development Coalition, which seeks to provide job training and jobs for unemployed or underemployed workers. It is supported by a Marshall Plan for Talent Innovation Grant from the state of Michigan.

During the 12-week program, participants will spend three days each week working at a Habitat work site to learn building techniques and practices. The rest of the week will be spent with mentors and construction professionals in the classroom. After completing the coalition program, students are encouraged to start formal apprenticeships with company or union programs or to continue their education at Baker College, Oakland Community College, or Oakland University.

“By adding apprenticeship to our volunteer model and engaging in workforce development, Habitat is creating a bridge to employment and home ownership,” says Tim Ruggles, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County. “Students over 18 who complete the program and are employed also may qualify to become Habitat homeowners. We also hope to have a positive impact on the current labor shortage in the construction industry.”

Participants will be paid through Michigan Works during their training, and curriculum expenses will be covered by individual, corporate, and Pontiac Promise Zone contributions. The program focuses on job placement with partner employers in the industry, including 1-800-Hansons and American House, upon completion.

“The TDC is a transformational construct which combines leaders and stakeholders from across all sectors and backgrounds,” says Pontiac Mayor Deidre Waterman. “Coming together under the banner of our five-year-long OU Pontiac Initiative, the TDC will create meaningful programs for our citizens, community, and our economy.”

Through the coalition, Habitat hopes to help close the labor gap.

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