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Green jobs training smooths reentry process

Several programs are leading the way in demonstrating the role of "green" jobs in creating new identities for formerly incarcerated people

By Paul Sheldon

With the increasing recognition of “green” technologies and practices as an effective way to save money and provide innovative sources of revenue for correctional institutions1,  many communities are also recognizing that green jobs training reduces recidivism and smooths the reentry process, by lowering barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated individuals2

Several programs at correctional institutions and in local communities are leading the way in demonstrating the role of “green” jobs in creating new identities for formerly incarcerated people.

Washington State’s “Sustainable Prisons Project” provides job training in scientific habitat and species restoration, by training inmates of correctional institutions to propagate grasses, frogs, and even endangered butterflies.3

Indiana’s Putnamville Correctional Facility hosts one of the nation’s first certificated vocational apprenticeship programs in recycling. Created for no cost, by a correctional officer who invited residents of the facility to sort their garbage into recyclable and non-recyclable items using colored trash cans, Putnamville’s program is now accredited and funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, providing a model for other institutions seeking to provide job training for little or no cost. In addition, the program has resulted in savings of more than $100,000 in trash hauling fees, and also generates more than $100,000 in additional revenue from the sale of recycled items.4

The Insight Garden Program at California’s San Quentin State Prison trains offenders and provides certificates in organic gardening. These certificated individuals are then able to locate landscape gardening jobs through innovative partnerships with community-based organizations such as Planting Justice, in Oakland. Planting Justice employs formerly incarcerated individuals in transitional landscape jobs, to give them successful employment records, while seeking long-term, full-time employment in California’s landscape industries5. Graduates of the Insight Garden Program have been shown to hold a greatly-reduced rate of recidivism over three years following release from incarceration6.

Programs such as these provide offenders with a new identity – instead of returning to gangs, drugs, and violence, they can become part of the “green” economy, helping their country to pioneer new ways of living in balance with natural systems and community institutions.

These programs are just a few of the many examples emerging from innovative partnerships between correctional facilities and local communities, to use the inspiration of the new “green” economy to reduce costs, provide new sources of revenue, and reduce recidivism.

___________________________________________________________

About the author: Paul Sheldon, M.A. is a Senior Advisor to Natural Capitalism Solutions and www.GreenPrisons.org.  He is a founding member of the American Correctional Association’s “Clean and Green” Committee, and is a popular speaker and workshop leader at correctional conferences and symposiums nationwide.  

Footnotes:

1.  Sheldon, Paul and Eugene Atherton. October 2011. Greening Corrections Technology Guidebook, National Institute of Justice, https://www.justnet.org/pdf/Greening-Corrections-Technology-Guidebook-final-0229.pdf
 2.  Feldbaum, Mindy, Frank Greene, Sarah Kirschenbaum, et al. March 2011. The Greening of Corrections: Creating a Sustainable System.  National Institute of Corrections, NIC Accession Number 024914, http://nicic.gov/Library/024914, p. 19).
 3.  
http://www.sustainableprisons.org, see also: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2018195493_apwaprisonbutterflies1stldwritethru.html
4.   http://www.in.gov/idoc/2403.htm
5.   http://www.insightgardenprogram.org  and http://www.plantingjustice.org.
6.  
http://www.insightgardenprogram.org/program.html

 

Editor's Note:  Meet our guest blogger this month- Michael Boucher, Research Analyst for EDD/Labor Market Information Division/Occupational Research Unit for the state of California.  He shares what's been going on with green occupational research in California.

Employment Development Department’s Labor Market Information Division (LMID) has accomplished a lot since our now-retired Deputy Division Chief, Bonnie Graybill, blogged in this space 5 ? months ago. Even before the release of California’s Green Economy Summary of Survey Results Report, LMID began conducting research on 34 green occupations identified in the survey. LMID uses the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Information Network (O*NET) as a baseline for green occupational research and augments the information with in-house research by analysts and graduate student assistants. Research consists of literature reviews, phone conversations with green employers, visits to various green companies around the state, contacts with LMI shops around the country, and surveys designed in conjunction with the California Community Colleges Centers of Excellence. One of the end products of this green occupational research is the “greening” of our California Occupational Guides.

As we have begun to go through this process, analysts are adapting themselves to the different challenges posed by occupations that are new and emerging. Chief among these issues is the fact that some of these occupations do not yet have Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes, which precludes the availability of concrete wage and job outlook information. In order to provide this LMI data for emerging green occupations, we have to rely on anecdotal information from reliable external resources to establish wage ranges and job outlook until the occupations can be formally surveyed.

Consequently, we have differing “tiers” of Guides under the green umbrella:

Tier #1) Full Web-based California Occupational Guide with local data:
An occupation in this tier has an assigned SOC code, which means it includes comprehensive information under categories such as What Would I Do, Tools and Technology, Green Economy, Important Tasks and Related Skills. Local and statewide annual and hourly wages, employment projections, and staffing patterns are also available. Green language is dispersed throughout the Guide, especially in the “What Would I Do?” and “How Do I Qualify?” sections. (Example: Soil and Plant Scientists)

Tier #2) Limited Web-based California Occupational Guide
In this tier, occupations do not have a specific SOC code, but, may have an O*NET secondary code that establishes the occupation as a specialty of the main SOC occupation (and will possibly have an SOC code of its own in the future). These occupations have significant change to the work and worker requirements.  The essential purposes of the occupation remain the same, but tasks, skills, knowledge, and other external elements, such as credentials, have been altered.  The wage and employment projection data will be for the occupation with the standard SOC code, not the breakout specialty. (Example: Electricians)

Tier #3) PDF versions of our California Occupational Guides for New and Emerging Green Occupations
Since the occupations in this tier are relatively new and just beginning to emerge in the green economy, they have not been assigned a SOC code.  Consequently, the Guides for these occupations will have limited wage and outlook. The bulk of the research is concentrated on satisfying the labor market information gaps in these burgeoning professions within the green economy. (Example: Recycling Center Operators)

We currently have 24 green California Occupational Guides available on the Web, with many more either in the process of being completed or planned for the immediate future. Of course, due to the fluidity of the green economy, we will continue to update those Guides already posted on the Web as new information becomes available.

Finally, to echo Bonnie’s sentiments from November, I am very excited to be part of the vanguard here at LMID in researching green occupations and helping workers find employment in the green economy.  Furthermore, as a native Californian and a father of two little boys, I am very proud of California for taking advantage of its vast resources and being a worldwide trendsetter in reducing carbon footprints and promoting green innovation, technology, and workforce development.

As a part of the state’s Labor Market Information Improvement Green Jobs Grant, the Oregon Employment Department partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service, Oregon Field Office to complete a survey of the state's natural resources industries employers. The natural resources industries include crop production; animal production; forestry and logging; fishing, hunting, and trapping; and agriculture and forestry support activities.

This survey represents the first time the Oregon Employment Department has collected employment data about “covered” and “non-covered” agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting employers in nearly 10 years. Non-covered employers are those that are not subject to Oregon’s unemployment insurance laws, and tend to be concentrated in the state’s natural resources industries. Survey results include information about the total workforce, seasonal and year-round employment, and green jobs in Oregon’s natural resources industries.

A Large and Seasonal Workforce
Based on the survey results, we estimate that in 2009 there were 122,730 jobs throughout the state's natural resources industries. Nearly two-thirds of the jobs were in the crop production sector, which dominates both year-round and seasonal employment trends. Seasonal jobs are employed for less than nine months in a year, while year-round jobs are employed for nine months or longer. We estimate that in 2009 there were 37,167 year-round jobs and 85,563 seasonal jobs employed throughout the state's natural resources industries.

Employers reported that roughly three out of every five jobs is classified in the farmworker occupation. There were 60,681 farmworkers working with crops, or nursery and greenhouse plants, and another 14,661 farmworkers working with farm, ranch, and aquacultural animals; 75,342 farmworkers in all.

Three Out of 20 Jobs Reported as a Green Job
For this survey, employers were asked to identify "green jobs" as those workers whose essential job duties are directly related to one of the components of Oregon's official definition of a green job.  Oregon’s definition of a green job requires that it do at least one of the following:

  • Increase energy efficiency;
  • Produce renewable energy;
  • Prevent, reduce or mitigate environmental degradation;
  • Clean up and restore the natural environment; and/or,
  • Educate, consult, and provide other services that support the above.

We estimate that in 2009 there were 6,978 green year-round and 11,581 green seasonal jobs employed throughout Oregon's agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sectors. According to employers, 19 percent of all year-round jobs and 14 percent of all seasonal jobs were green jobs - jobs with essential duties related to Oregon's definition of a green job. The crop production sector had 12,748 green jobs in 2009, more than two-thirds of all the green jobs reported.

No Significant Difference between Green Jobs and Other Jobs
In an attempt to learn more about the differences between green jobs and other jobs, employers were asked to identify the three key differences that set their workers with green jobs apart from the rest of their employees. Nearly 1,500 employers reported at least one green job, but only 14 percent of those employers acknowledged that green workers at their establishment had knowledge or skills that differed significantly from their co-workers.

Disconnect Between "Green Jobs" and "Green-Related Job Activities"
Employers were asked if any green-related job activities were performed by workers at their establishment, and roughly 68 percent responded "no." Employers in the crop production and forestry and logging sectors were slightly more likely to have some green-related job activities at their establishment.

While only 13 percent of natural resource employers reported having at least one green job in 2009, 32 percent reported having workers that performed green-related job activities during the period. The likely reason for the difference between these two estimates is a small but important difference in how the two questions were asked. On the first question, employers identified "green jobs" as those with essential job duties related to the definition of a green job, while the second question asked employers to identify any green-related job activities that were performed by their workers. So, while more than 18,500 jobs in Oregon's natural resources industries has essential duties related to the state's definition of a green job, it is likely that many more jobs have at least some green-related job activities.

More Data Available Online
A full survey report, which includes more detailed data analysis, is available online at www.QualityInfo.org/Green.

-- Gail Krumenauer, Oregon Employment Department

"This article has been funded, either wholly or in part, with Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, under grant #GJ-19828. The contents of this article do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement of same by the U.S. Government."

On Wednesday, June 22, 2011, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced nearly $38 million in grants for the Green Jobs Innovation Fund.  Six organizations – serving workers in 19 states and the District of Columbia – received a total of $38 million in funding to help existing career training programs leverage Registered Apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeship programs and community-based partnerships in building sustainable green career pathways. The Green Jobs Innovation Fund was authorized under the Workforce Investment Act to help workers receive job training in green industry sectors. "This grant program is an important part of the administration's efforts to equip workers with the skills they need to succeed in green industry jobs," said Secretary Solis. "These are smart investments in the green energy jobs of today and the green energy economy of the future."

Please read the Secretary's blog on what the Green Jobs Innovation Fund awards mean for job training, the environment, the American worker, and our economy.

Editor's Note:  Meet our guest blogger this month - Erin Payne, Program Associate at SJF Institute and currently leads their Green Jobs Awards program. Erin shares with you highlights and best practices from the 2010 Green Jobs Awards.

 

LESSONS FROM SJF GREEN JOBS AWARDEES

The SJF Green Jobs Awards recognizes private companies for excellence in both green business solutions and employee engagement

 

Last year SJF Institute and Green For All together launched the Green Jobs Award Program to identify, recognize, and promote private companies in the U.S. that are leaders in quality green job creation. The program, developed with support from the Citi Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, celebrates privately-held businesses making valuable contributions to both the economy and the environment. The application process was open to private companies with at least $500,000 in revenue, and with a business model that preserves or enhances environment quality. Applicants were judged on their environmental contribution, quality of jobs and benefits, the diversity of employment opportunities, and their level of community engagement.

 

2010 Green Jobs Award Winners

In November 2010, an Advisory Board of respected experts in social entrepreneurship, green business, environmental impact, workforce development and engagement and economic development selected ten winners from across the country which were celebrated at a reception in New York. These inaugural winners represented 1,300 employees in diverse industries from renewable energy and energy efficiency to consumer products, manufacturing and engineering, and their aggregate revenues were over $150 million.  Some were founded with an explicit mission to create environmentally-beneficial products and services, and others were transforming traditional markets with green innovations.

 

Our award-winning companies provided their employees with great benefits, as well as allocating money for training, development and education programs for their employees. All of the companies recognized their employees’ key role in business success.

 

Below are details of some key green strategies and employee engagement strategies the winning companies have implemented.

 

Alvarado Street Bakery of Petaluma, CA, is a worker owned cooperative founded in 1978 which is committed to using whole grain and organic ingredients.  The bakery has 118 worker owners who are able to review all financial documents and participate fully in decision-making, as well as engaging in training programs to enhance their skills and development.

 

Bioengineering Group, based in Salem, MA, is a woman-owned company that is a pioneer in the field of ecological restoration and the application of sustainability principles to site planning, development, and storm water management. One recent project was a hurricane and flood protection system in New Orleans. This innovative company provides its 62 employees with excellent benefits, including a wellness program which offers 24-hour access to an on-call doctor and monthly on-site sessions. Employees are encouraged to present at conferences both to share information on sustainability and also to develop their leadership skills. Further employee skill development happens at weekly brown bag lunches where discussions include good management practices, new methods of sustainability, and new product ideas.

 

CLEAResult, headquartered in Austin, TX, is an energy optimization company which creates long-term roadmaps (Energy Master Plans) for its utility clients. These roadmaps give utility customers the tools they need to make continuous reductions in energy use over time, reducing energy demand. The company, which empowers its more than 250 employees to identify ways to improve company performance, also features a Leadership Academy to further build the management and team-building capabilities of its people. CLEAResult’s community involvement includes creative engagement such as their holiday auction where employee talents such as babysitting or gardening are auctioned off and proceeds go to local and national charities.

 

E Light Wind and Solar of Englewood, CO, is a commercial electrical construction company which expanded from traditional electrical contracting to alternative energy contracting in 2009. E Light, with 175 employees, has a very strong focus on people.  Perhaps the most innovative program the firm offers is its 4-year completely funded Electric Apprenticeship Program which combines on-the-job experience with structured classroom time. Most employees, who have a high school diploma, start the training at entry level and work towards their journeyman’s license. Training is also offered at the journeyman, supervision, management, and executive levels. The firm has added an alternative power curriculum for all apprentice electricians and in 2011 they will add training to help prepare employees for certification in alternative energy design and installation. In addition, employees are given a comprehensive benefits package including profit sharing.

 

FLS Energy of Asheville, NC, is a design-build firm that offers engineering, installation and financing solutions for utility scale solar thermal and photovoltaic energy systems. Their innovative Solar Thermal Purchase Agreement allows clients to implement solar energy without the cost of purchasing the equipment. This triple-bottom line company has a strong employee culture and provides great benefits to its 64 employees, including semi-annual profit sharing based on hours worked and company profitability, departmental career ladders, and continuous education subsidized by the company. FLS Energy is proud to employ graduates of the local nonprofit Green Opportunities program for at-risk young adults as well as host apprentices. 

 

Melink is an energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions company located in the rust belt in Milford, OH. Founded in 1987, the company offers HVAC and building commissioning, commercial kitchen ventilation controls and solar PV solutions.  Melink’s own building, which the company designed and built, is one of only a few LEED Platinum buildings in Ohio. Melink’s 70 full time employees enjoy strong benefits including health insurance, a retirement plan, and profit sharing, along with access to a workout facility. All employees are encouraged to participate in training and continuing education in order to reach goals set with their managers via Individual Development Plans.  An innovation at Melink is the Dream Manager Program which encourages and supports people to follow their personal dreams which the firm believes will translate to more success in their professional lives. Incentives are also provided to employees after one year to purchase their own hybrid cars or install renewable energy at their homes. 

 

OPOWER, based in Arlington, VA, is an energy efficiency and smart grid software company that partners with utilities to engage their customers to drive large-scale reductions in energy usage. Customers are offered a variety of platforms to engage in smart energy decisions, including energy reports received by mail, online through a suite of web-based tools, or by phone with customer service representatives. The company is committed to fostering a positive, inclusive company culture and a modern, flexible and diverse work environment for its 155 employees. OPOWER prizes its nonhierarchical structure and every full time employee is given equity in the company. Employees enjoy a weekly company lunch, free gym access, and a quarterly Innovation Day where they can work on areas of particular interest. 

 

Petra Solar of South Plainfield, NJ, has developed the SunWave™ a new class of renewable technology. This system combines PV solar generation with smart grid communications and grid reliability enhancement functions for utilities. Petra Solar's SunWave™ systems are installed on existing assets, such as utility distribution and streetlight poles, to deliver power directly to the grid. The company also uses shipping containers made from biodegradable materials. The company has grown quickly and its 166 employees enjoy career ladders and a competitive benefits package. Petra Solar is committed to growing jobs locally and is an advocate of tying local consumption to local manufacturing. The firm actively hires graduates of green jobs programs from local community colleges.

 

Sellars Absorbent Materials of Milwaukee, WI is a manufacturer and marketer of commercial and consumer multi-use disposable towels, wipes, and absorbents. The company is able to compete successfully with much larger firms using what Sellars terms Green Innovation™ -leveraging its proprietary technology to use waste raw materials to create higher performing products at lower prices.  Sellars’ employee culture is a key component to their overall success; in order for the company to innovate, their 115 diverse employees must share a common understanding of the company’s vision and strategy. Weekly trainings, continuing education/tuition reimbursement, and quarterly full company meetings are some of the ways the firm works to establish collective goals and shared metrics as well as encouraging individual employee growth and development.  

 

Southern Energy Management of Morrisville, NC, helps customers make smart energy decisions through their two lines of business: energy efficiency solutions and solar power installations. A certified B Corporation (a new type of corporation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems), the firm’s business model promotes environmental sustainability in both the services they offer as well as the way they do business. Additionally the firm has a strong culture of ownership that is supported by broad-based employee stock options and competitive benefits. Southern Energy Management strives to create careers for its 88 employees - not just jobs. The firm is strongly committed to promotion from within; each department has an established career path and there are training and certification opportunities at all levels.

 

IREC and the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) Release Best Practices Documents

Documents designed to enhance quality solar training and education in the U.S.

 

June 6, 2012.   From the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC) and the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) come the Best Practices Documents, a series of documents designed to give instructors an in-depth resource to develop new solar education and training programs, enhance existing ones, as well as integrate solar content into related trades programs.

 

This series of documents from IREC and SITN is a compendium of national best practices for instructors in solar training, education and workforce development. They are designed to significantly hasten the development of quality solar training and education programs throughout the U.S. These Best Practices build on IREC's previous work of Best Practices first published in 2008 and updated in 2010.

 

"These Best Practices documents will finally provide a one-stop shop to enable instructors to easily enhance current solar curriculum, and also provide a detailed roadmap for instructors who are considering adding solar to related trades curriculum. How I wish I had something like this when I was developing my solar program," said Joe Sarubbi, Project Manager for the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) and former solar educator at Hudson Valley Community College.

 

Launched in 2009, the SITN includes nine Regional Training Providers (RTPs) that offer train-the-trainer programs to instructors at community colleges, technical high schools, and trade associations in solar system design, installation, sales, and inspection across the U.S.  The SITN is funded under The U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative, a national collaborative to make solar cost-competitive with other forms of energy by reducing the cost of solar energy systems by about 75% by the end of the decade.  

 

"These 'Best Practices' for photovoltaic training are supported by SunShot as a way to ensure consistency in training our nation's growing solar workforce," said Christina Nichols, Contractor to SunShot, U.S. Department of Energy.  "Providing industry-approved best practices, and training PV installers, system designers and other solar professionals to a high level of tested competence will help shave costs from every PV installation, while increasing the safety and production from that system. Better quality and lower costs will spur robust job creation in the U.S. solar industry." 

 

The development of these Best Practices documents is part of IREC's role as the National Administrator of the SITN. IREC assembled some of the most distinguished talent in the country in solar training, education and workforce development to create these resources.  

 

The SITN Best Practices series, which are available in PDF format, can be downloaded from the  Solar Instructor Training Network site.  They include:

 

1. Developing a Quality Course explores the process of developing a quality course or unit of instruction and the models and practices that can be used for solar education or other purposes.  It also describes the instructional systems design (ISD) model, and how the ADDIE Model can be used to design and develop a course or workshop.

 

2. Solar Content Integration features options for educating and training individuals by integrating or infusing solar content into existing education and training programs.       

 

3. Curriculum and Program Development gives a brief overview of the curriculum development process, with special attention to DACUM (Developing a Curriculum) methodology and Job Task Analysis (JTA).        

 

4. Becoming an Effective Teacher, focuses on teaching and learning strategies that promote effective instruction.       

 

5. Exemplary Solar Education and Training Programs presents information on six exemplary solar education and training programs in the U.S.

  

"From developing a quality solar course to integrating solar content into existing training programs to becoming an effective teacher, these Best Practices documents were thoughtfully and deliberately developed to give solar instructors a valuable resource for training a highly-skilled, globally-competitive solar energy workforce for the 21st Century," said Dr. Jerry Ventre.

 

As these Best Practices make their way into classrooms, IREC will work closely with the RTPs to enhance these resources, adding lessons-learned and regional models that provide further examples of the best practices in use. "These aren't static documents," said Sarubbi.

In addition to these initial Best Practices, more documents in the series are in development, to be released later in 2012.

 

For more information about the Solar Instructor Training Network, visit the website at www.sitnusa.org

 

About the Solar Instructor Training Network 

The Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN), through nine Regional Training Providers, is training instructors at community colleges, technical high schools and trade associations to help fulfill a critical need for high-quality, local, and accessible training in solar system design, installation, sales, and inspection through train-the-trainer programs. The nine RTPs are well-established solar training institutions that offer expert trainers and first-class training facilities across the U.S.  www.sitnusa.org

 

About The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. 

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc., (IREC) is a non-profit organization accelerating the use of renewable energy since 1982. IREC's programs and policies lead to easier, more affordable connection to the utility grid; fair credit for renewable energy produced; best practices for states, municipalities, utilities and industry; and quality assessment for the growing green workforce through the credentialing of trainers and training programs.  IREC is the National Administrator for the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Instructor Training Network.

 www.irecusa.org

Green Jobs Award Applications Are Due June 15

Celebrating Great Green Job Creators

 

We are quickly approaching the deadline of June 15 for this year’s applications to the 2011 Green Jobs Award program. Applications can be found online at www.greenjobsaward.org/apply.

 

A recent CNBC article (“Hype Aside, ‘Green Jobs’ Are For Real”) provided even more confirmation that the green sector is one of the fastest growing segments of the economy, creating as many as 4.2 million new green jobs over the next 30 years.  At SJF Institute, we want to be sure that the model for a green job is one that offers great benefits, employee engagement, and career paths for individuals.

 

Last year’s inaugural Green Jobs Award celebrated ten leading private companies that demonstrated their ability to create good, green jobs. The exciting class of winners included innovative companies from across the country representing diverse industries, from renewable energy and energy efficiency to consumer products and engineering. The winning companies included both those in the cleantech sector as well as firms in with green innovations in traditional industries. These companies exemplify how environmental solutions and high road employment practices can drive success.

 

This year’s Green Jobs Award also seeks to recognize businesses that are making valuable contributions to both the economy and the environment. The free application process is open to all private companies with annual revenue of at least $500,000 and ten employees, and with a business model that preserves or enhances the environment. Winners will receive recognition, media exposure, executive mentorship opportunities, and a package of pro bono business services provided by Certified B Corporations. Winners will also receive an all expense paid trip to the Awards Reception in October 2011.

 

We look forward to celebrating an exciting new group of Green Jobs Award-winning firms that can show that green strategies and employee engagement are keys to their success.

Apply today and be recognized as a green jobs leader!

 

Beyond Green Jobs, Building Lasting Opportunities in Energy Efficiency is a book recently published by the UCLA Construction Academy, a project of the UCLA Labor Center and shared with ETA by Daniel Villao, Statewide Director of the California Construction Academy and member of the Secretary of Labor's Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship. 

What is the book about?  Beyond Green Jobs puts forth a foundation to bring energy efficiency to scale in a tough economy.  Some major points:

  • There are many shades of green.  Going deep green can provide the greatest benefits to the economy, the environment, and the community.
  • Deep green means lifelong opportunities for plumbers, HVAC mechanics, and other skilled construction craft workers.  Rather than receiving training to just replace light bulbs, a worker can become an electrician and have a career far into the future.
  • Many innovative programs across the country are creating good green jobs despite a tough economy.  These programs are forging diverse partnerships, creating high quality jobs, employing creative financing strategies, and generating demand for energy efficiency.
  • Knowledge of the construction industry matters.  Construction can exploit workers in dangerous and temporary dead-end jobs, or it can provide entry to stable, middle-class careers.  It is important to build upon tools that work. 

Also, check out photos of the launch party and download infographics from the book. 

A Framework for Preparing Low-Income Youth for Green Jobs, Green Careers, and Postsecondary Success

By Sally Prouty

Originally published on The Huffington Post

One of the biggest challenges in today's world is figuring out how to connect people to jobs. According to reports at the recently held Clinton Global Initiative America, there are 3 million jobs in the country going unfilled. Despite these vacancies there are so many people who need jobs and can’t find them.  While there's probably not a universal solution to this problem, today I am happy to write about what I believe to be at least one positive development for young Americans.

Recent funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has supported an effort that involved numerous stakeholders in a process of figuring out how best to prepare young men and women for success in the world of green jobs. Many of these young people are low-income and disconnected, meaning that they have disengaged from school and are struggling to find a way into the economic mainstream. Some six million strong -- they represent an untapped resource. Nonetheless, even though many of these young people are seeking second chances, they need significant support to succeed.

Based on input from 35 stakeholder organizations and six federal agencies, significant research, and an ever-changing climate in the world of green jobs, The Corps Network and several principal partners -- Center on Wisconsin Strategy, Green For All, and the Academy for Educational Development -- are pleased to release a new publication that has resulted from our efforts titled A Green Career Pathways Framework: Postsecondary and Employment Success for Low-Income, Disconnected Youth. 

In short, A Green Career Pathways Framework offers guidance to youth programs, and those who work with and support those programs, about accessing industry-recognized credentials and green job opportunities within local communities or regions. With this knowledge in hand, youth programs  can engage employers and postsecondary partners to build “On-Ramps” for low-income youth onto pathways into postsecondary education and provide the supports necessary for them to obtain credentials and move into careers with opportunity for advancement.   

An On-Ramp program ideally has ties to local community colleges, employers, and other supportive partners. Our research indicates that when these connections are strong, there is a greater likelihood that young people will gain the job skills, educational credentials, and the confidence boost they need to persevere in the long-term. Perhaps it's not rocket science, but sometimes making these connections is easier said than done. There are also some tried and true practices that have proven to lead some On Ramps to greater success than others.

I invite you to read A Green Career Pathways Framework to learn more about the Framework as well as discover some specific examples where success has been achieved largely because youth programs, employers, and postsecondary educational institutions have formed committed partnerships that are mutually beneficial.

You can also read several success stories from individuals who have reconnected to a positive economic and educational future because of green careers and on-ramp programs. They include Yesenia Ramirez of Los Angeles, California, Tyler Rose of Flagstaff, Arizona, Iryn Rowan of New Orleans, Louisiana, Will Waters of San Rafael, California, Jordan Temple of Brooklyn, New York, and David Phillips of Charleston, South Carolina. Their stories are perhaps the most effective means for showing why these kinds of efforts matter so much.

There is increasing interest in environmental sustainability and green jobs.  Let’s start helping young people go beyond a job, and get a career. It’s a winner for young people, the economy, and the environment.

If you would like to read or download A Green Career Pathways Framework: Postsecondary and Employment Success for Low-Income, Disconnected Youth you can access it for free at The Corps Network's website.

 

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