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Apprentice program keeps talent pipeline gushing at Detroit Labs

Detroit Labs office

Creating jobs for software developers is not difficult. It seems like every company with a toe in the new economy pool needs at least a developer or two on its team. Creating software developers, on the other hand, is not so easy.

But Detroit Labs is making the difficult look easy these days. The downtown Detroit-based tech firm makes custom apps for clients both big and small, such as DTE Energy and Fathead. To meet those needs the company has grown to 90 employees since its launch in 2011, including a dozen new hires over the last year.

"We're always looking for new talent," says Bill Camp, planning and development overlord with Detroit Labs.

Many of the firm's new hires come from the company's apprentice program, which trains software developers and paves the way for full-time employment at the company. It has helped professionals from a number of different industries make the career switch to software. Detroit Labs has run three classes of its apprentice program, which have resulted in 20 new hires in each of the first two and 11 hires in the most recent. Those new hires end up working at Detroit Labs or for one of its clients.

"We highly value our developers," Camp says. "We offer them a great package at Detroit Labs, like flexible schedule and time to work on their own projects. We are also a very flat structure so people can take charge in leading their projects."

It also comes with a number of other perks, such as an in-house fitness program. There employees can sign up for everything from a masseuse to yoga to cardio workouts.

"We had 20-30 people at one point in this fitness program," says Will McDowell, an analyst for Detroit Labs.

All of this has added up to a growing business. Detroit Labs' income has doubled over the last year. That has resulted in it filling out its two floors at1520 Woodward in the M@dison Block of downtown Detroit. The company can still fit all of its employees in its current offices, but it is starting to explore ways to expand that space.

"There is some space in the building we are looking at, but nothing official," Camp says.

Source: Bill Camp & Will McDowell, Detroit Labs
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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