On Monday, Secretary Tom Perez visited “Motor City” to talk with people there about American ingenuity and ways we can partner to grow Detroit’s workforce.
The beginning of what was a very long day started at the North American International Auto Show. Joined by colleagues Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, Secretary Perez toured the auto show to view several American-made vehicles. Some Ford parts (like the dashboard below) were made right in the city, at Detroit Manufacturing Systems.
Secretaries Perez and Foxx then drove over to Focus: HOPE to learn about how the organization is giving Detroiters in-demand skills through job training programs, as well as to discuss the important role transportation plays in jobs. Focus: HOPE’s machinist training institute has prepared more than 2,500 Detroiters for jobs that are critical to the area’s economic growth.
From there, Secretary Perez made a stop at the United Auto Workers-Ford Technical Training Center to see first-hand how apprentices receive their training based on industry demand. While Perez did not want to disturb Joe Joerin, a machine repair apprentice taking a final exam that day, he quickly wished him luck (and later learned that Joe passed his final with flying colors!).
At the last stop − and one of my personal favorites − Secretary Perez toured Shinola, a new company that manufactures watches, bicycles and leather goods in Detroit. They are the only company making watches at scale in America. Shinola has workers from all different backgrounds that are committed to their jobs and whose pay starts at about $13 per hour. Secretary Perez visited workers on the movement assembly line, and as an avid biker, he didn’t hesitate to try out one of the new Shinola bikes by taking it for a spin around the office.
It was great to see the innovation and effective job training in action in Detroit that is benefiting both workers and businesses. As Secretary Perez likes to say, it’s the American spirit at work.
Xochitl Hinojosa is the press secretary in the Office of Public Affairs.