In April 2015, Dominic Butcher needed a career change.
The high school graduate from the White Earth Ojibwe reservation was making $9 an hour, working 20 hours a week at a hair salon.
Butcher, 25, had hoped for more from the aesthetician certificate he had earned.
A friend told him to see a job-training counselor at Project for Pride in Living (PPL), the nonprofit housing and training business that targets a lower-income, disproportionately minority clientele, including those who rent from PPL.
“I went through the [several-week] banking program,” Butcher recalled. “I learned the terminology and purpose of banking and what the jobs would be like. I also learned about building personal assets and skills, including a résumé and building my self-confidence.
“Sunrise Bank had a job fair. I showed up and got a job.”
Today, Butcher is a teller-line supervisor at a Sunrise branch in Minneapolis, making $15-plus an hour with full benefits. He likes his colleagues, the mix of business and consumer customers and Sunrise’s commitment to local communities.
“I want to stay with the company,” Butcher said. “And I feel more secure after going through the PPL training and working here.”
PPL is one of a dozen-plus Twin Cities nonprofit trainers and colleges working with employers to produce the thousands of Twin Cities workers needed annually to feed an expanding economy and move into factories, restaurants and offices as baby boomers retire.
PPL, located on the near-southside, sees more than 3,500 people annually in its employment-training division.
Some just want help with a résumé, to use a computer or receive interview tips. About 700 annually enter programs of several weeks to monthslong. Many will be placed in employment with PPL partners such as Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Hennepin County, U.S. Bancorp or Wells Fargo. PPL said its average client who earns a certificate in health care, financial services or other profession increases annual income, on average, from $8,275 to $29,141. The average job starts at $15 an hour. And 90 percent of its placements are at the same job a year later.
Most PPL clients are low-income, some with children and menial jobs. They don’t have the time or money to go to even a two-year community college.
“Our programs are customized,” said May Xiong, PPL’s vice president of employment readiness. “For example, Minneapolis Community & Technical College [MCTC] has a two-year human services degree” as part of its associate-degree program. “We took that program and turned it into a nine-month program, twice weekly in the evenings.”
PPL is not an accredited college. However, its programs dovetail with some of the curriculum taught at MCTC, other community colleges, and even Metro State, St. Thomas or Augsburg universities. PPL certificate holders may be able to get credit for some of the work they have done, and go on to earn an associate or four-year degree with assistance from an employer.
Shaneka Greer, a 28-year-old single mother, is a good example.
Greer worked part-time, earning $16,000, and getting some public assistance. She passed PPL’s human services curriculum, which involved some noncredit and credit-earning work at MCTC. Today, she is a $35,000-plus personnel representative at Hennepin County.
Susan Beatty, a U.S. Bank vice president, said it has placed 65 PPL graduates since 2011.
The bank “provides branch tours, workshops and mock interviews where participants have the opportunity to connect with branch managers and build relationships,” Beatty said. “This partnership has grown into a great pathway to fill open positions within the [bank].’’
PPL CEO Paul Williams said the key is to get trainees up to speed and into a family-supporting job, whether trained by PPL, MCTC, Goodwill Industries, Emerge or another job-training organization. Many of these jobs have room for advancement. The two- and four-year degrees can come later.
Neal St. Anthony has been a Star Tribune business columnist and reporter since 1984. He can be contacted at email@example.com.