DTE’s new diversity-focused Tree Trim Academy to help create jobs in vegetation management

Tree Trim Academy students practice climbing on a massive onsite structure. Credit: DTE

Last week, DTE Energy launched a first-of-its- kind Tree Trim Academy to create what it says will be 200 high-paying jobs in Detroit over the next three years. In partnership with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 17, the City of Detroit, and Focus: HOPE, DTE’s Tree Trim Academy will offer new jobs, paid training, and wraparound services — like childcare and transportation — for a diverse pool of talent.

The tree trimmers graduating from the Academy, like other tree trimmers DTE employs, will help to ensure energy reliability by reducing outages due to fallen trees and branches.

“Detroit has a need for jobs and DTE has a need for tree trimmers,” said DTE Energy President and CEO Jerry Norcia. “Our Tree Trim Academy will create more diversity in our workforce while creating jobs for Detroiters — and at the same time, help us to continue to improve electric reliability as trees account for 70 percent of the time our customers spend without power. We’re committed to Detroit, Detroiters and all of the communities we serve.”

In tandem with the City of Detroit’s Mayor’s Office and in collaboration with Focus: HOPE and Detroit at Work, the DTE Tree Trim Academy expects to train 60 graduates in 2021, filling the area’s ever-growing demand for line-clearance tree trimmers.

“The DTE Tree Trim Academy is an incredible opportunity for Detroit residents to learn a valuable skill, make an excellent wage and contribute to improvements being made in our neighborhoods,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “I appreciate DTE’s commitment to diversifying its workforce and the partnership of IBEW Local 17 and Focus: HOPE to assist Detroiters for this innovative program.”

The DTE Tree Trim Academy will offer a six-week Line Clearance Tree Trimming (LCTT) training program to equip graduates with the career- readiness preparation, safety training and tree trimming skills needed to move into IBEW Local 17’s apprenticeship program pipeline. Graduates will also earn a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and a certificate in customer service.

Experienced tree trimmers can earn more than $100,000 per year. Including this year’s class of 60 graduates, the program will create 200 jobs in Detroit by 2024.

“The Tree Trim Academy is a perfect example of stakeholders coming together to make our energy more reliable and our workforce more diverse,” said Dan Scripps, Michigan Public Service Commission Chair. “This partnership will create real opportunity for people throughout Southeast Michigan while improving reliability. This is no small task, and the team assembled today demonstrates the efficacy of Michigan’s energy framework now and for future generations.”

IBEW Local 17’s program is one of only two U.S. Department of Labor LCTT certified programs in the country, reflective of their commitment to training arborists and in lockstep with DTE Energy’s steadfast commitment to safety first.

“We strive to build an empowered and diverse workforce and are excited to help develop more well-trained and well-paid workers who put safety first,” said James Shaw, Business Manager at IBEW Local 17. “Growing and developing local talent has to be a focus to best maintain safe, reliable energy.”

Too often, job opportunities are unreachable because of high barriers to entry that disproportionately affect underserved communities, including reliable transportation. Focus: HOPE is offering wraparound services to help break down these barriers. This includes everything from childcare and transportation to helping people with internet access. Focus: HOPE is focused on giving students every opportunity to succeed.

“Many living wage job opportunities have barriers to entry which make it extremely difficult for people from underserved communities to get and keep jobs. This program helps breakdown those barriers for Metro Detroiters,” said Linda Tinsley, Program Manager at Focus: HOPE. “Throughout this program, students will earn stipends paid each week – $50 a day for the first two weeks and $100 per day for the last four weeks. People want training but generally can’t afford to stop working to complete training programs. This program helps to ensure students can sustain their basic needs while preparing for their future.”

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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