Building Futures: Southeast Michigan Construction Academy’s Commitment to Reaching Diverse Populations

In a region known for its rich history of industry and innovation, the Southeast Michigan Construction Academy is taking steps to strengthen the landscape of the construction trades. Acknowledging the importance of diversity in the workforce, SEMCA has embarked on a mission to engage with various organizations, fostering collaboration to create a more representative and skilled construction industry.
The construction trades have traditionally been male-dominated, lacking diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity and background. Recognizing the need for change, SEMCA actively seeks partnerships with organizations that share a commitment to promoting inclusivity within the construction industry. In order to grow the industry and meet workforce demands, it is necessary to be purposeful in attracting a more diverse population of candidates.
“One key aspect of SEMCA’s engagement strategy involves collaboration with local K-12 schools who serve diverse and at-risk student populations. A new cohort of Mount Clemens High School students are now participating in an introduction to construction course under SEMCA’s accreditation,” mentioned director of education Marissa Downs. “Students have the unique ability to gain a basic understanding of construction concepts, content that they would not likely encounter otherwise. Students then have the option to use their portable NCCER credentials towards post-secondary programming at SEMCA, giving them a leg-up on future training. With SEMCA’s support, Mount Clemens’ construction trades program will continue to grow and impact more students.”
Another notable strategy to help attract diverse individuals is the establishment of scholarship programs specifically designed to support underserved communities. Through a partnership with the generous Berman Family Foundation, minority students from Detroit and closely surrounding areas are able to access training and get the support needed to find careers in construction.
These scholarships aim to reduce financial barriers and create equal opportunities for aspiring individuals to pursue education and training in the construction trades. Berman Family Scholarship recipients are often graduates of Detroit Cornerstone Schools’ STEP-ONE program, another valuable partner of SEMCA, through which graduating seniors gain exposure to
jobs in skilled trades and pre-apprenticeship programs, as well as opportunities to develop their team building, communication and self-management skills.
“SEMCA recognizes the importance of engaging with local community organizations that specialize in workforce development and support services,” said vice president of education Deanna Morley. “SEMCA’s new and growing partnership with Focus: HOPE helps bridge the gap between career-seeking individuals and actual opportunities in industry. We are pleased to be part of the support network available to students in Focus: HOPE’s construction pre-apprenticeship program.”
In addition to specific partnerships, SEMCA regularly participates in classroom visits, career fairs and CTE advisory boards throughout the region. Such engagements are tailored to introduce a wide range of students to the various career paths within the construction industry, dispel misconceptions and showcase the exciting possibilities of a career in construction.
The Southeast Michigan Construction Academy’s dedication to growing and diversifying the construction trades is vital to the health of the industry. By engaging with educational institutions and community organizations, SEMCA is actively working towards supporting a more diverse pool of talent, constructing a future where diversity strengthens the construction trades and where the future of the construction industry in southeast Michigan will grow to better reflect the richness of its people.