Career builders: Partnership provides academic training, work-study and career placement for area youth

February 22, 2016

A partnership with GE and Workforce Opportunity Services offered participants academic training, work-study—and full-time job offers at GE as Java developers. 

Workforce Opportunity Services program at UM-Dearborn
Workforce Opportunity Services program at UM-Dearborn
WOS Founder and Chairman Arthur Langer, left, and CIS Chairman William Grosky, right, congratulate Detroit resident Demetria Blair on successfully completing the Workforce Opportunity Services program.

Eleven recent graduates of a non-credit certificate program didn’t have to send out resumes or attend career fairs—upon completion of their program, they were guaranteed a job at one of the largest companies in the world.

“It sounds like there would be a catch, but there’s not,” said Candice Stegink, continuing education specialist in the Extended Learning and Outreach office.  “It’s as straight forward as it sounds. If students complete the program and earn their non-credit certificate, they get the job.”

And at the completion of this program, each student earned a full-time position at General Electric as Java developers in GE’s Advanced Manufacturing & Software Technology Center, located just outside of Detroit, in Belleville, Mich.

This opportunity—which took place from March 2015 to January 2016—was the result of a partnership with GE and Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS). WOS is a national nonprofit that bridges the employment and education gap to give veterans and young adults with limited resources entry into the business world.

Chosen from a field of 210 applicants, these student participants were recruited online to take part in a no-cost, intensive, 34-week academic training and work-study program. During the program, they were paid through WOS and received health benefits.

Stegink said it was the first time WOS, has come to Michigan, and she was pleased they chose UM-Dearborn as their educational partner.

“GE had a need for Detroit-based employees so they contacted WOS, which is when WOS contacted UM-Dearborn to see if we would be interested in creating the educational component of the program,” said Stegink. “WOS was looking for a flagship university with a reputation for a strong engineering and computer science college; UM-Dearborn was a clear choice.”

Computer and Information Science Chair Bill Grosky said, looking at GE’s needs, the department developed the curriculum, reserved classrooms and recruited educators.

“When it came to teaching Java, we looked at the skill set the students had and the skills they needed to learn to be prepared to work for GE,” he said. “By the time they were transitioning to the work-study part of the program, they were ready.”

Art Langer, WOS founder and chairman, said he was glad to facilitate this opportunity in the Motor City and hopes to work with UM-Dearborn again in the near future.

“There is an untapped pool of talent in Detroit,” he said. “Through education, training and mentoring, we can provide life-changing opportunities for these Detroit graduates to succeed in the business world and bring lasting value to the workforce and society.”

Evaluating all of the feedback received, Stegink said everyone was satisfied with both the process and end result.

“From all parties involved—the students, instructors, GE, WOS—we heard that the experience was outstanding, and we are hopeful that these students will continue their education at UM-Dearborn” she said.


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