888 4 ENV EDU

News Flash: Workforce Development Crucial for Construction

Environmental professionals should take heed of the upcoming Federal jobs program. Early reports indicate that the construction industry may be headed for a boost.

According to President Obama millions of unemployed construction workers would be able to “get dirty” building roads, bridges and other public works under his infrastructure proposals. Expect more detail on Thursday night.

This is great news for an industry that has suffered considerably these past few years. Environmental cleanup and contracting businesses play a vital role in preparation of sites for new construction or renovation and should be in the forefront of those who benefit from this latest stimulus.

What comes of this effort remains to be seen. Last time around significant funding was directed through the State toward energy efficiency. Thousands of homes and commercial properties underwent energy audits and completed retrofits. Existing weatherizaton programs took on the lion’s share of this work, and private contractors were largely left in the cold, so to speak.

The hope this round is that funding will make its way via State or local agencies to contractors that will hire (or maintain) qualified personnel for assisted projects.

Logic would indicate that those who are qualified will get hired first. The key to creating jobs, especially among those who might not otherwise have access to career building resources, is to provide the training and support to place these individuals in position A-1 when an opportunity arises.

Workforce development and other jobs programs have begun to see the virtue of this approach. The EPA Brownfields Program provides local organizations with grant funding to train unemployed and underemployed folks for careers in environmental cleanup. EEA works with the Workforce Investment Board of Herkimer, Madison and Oneida Counties and Mohawk Valley Community College on one such grant and has worked with the University of Buffalo Brownfields programs in the past.

The Green Jobs/Green New York program is another such effort. The plan here is to create opportunity in the moderate income housing and light commercial markets for energy efficiency and healthy homes by offering State tax credits and other incentives. EEA is working with People for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) to train and place residents of the West Side for opportunities in GJ/GNY

EEA has developed an extensive network of workforce development partners. This includes the traditional agencies, such as the State Workforce Investment Board (WIB), Workforce 1 in NYC, Rochester Works, and Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID).

We are also working with new, or potential programs with BUILD in Brooklyn, the Buffalo Urban League and the Veterans Administration. EEA provides the training services that prepare individuals for careers in the environmental industry. Our asbestos, lead, mold, hazmat and safety programs offer a proactive investment for those pursuing a rewarding career in the construction industry.

There are plenty of “shovel ready” projects set to go where qualified environmental cleanup personnel will be needed. The Gowanus Canal and Buffalo River cleanups come to mind, along with big projects in Rochester, where the City schools are being renovated and across upstate as the latest stimulus funding makes its way through the Federal/State/local labyrinth.

EEA will continue to connect the dots between opportunities and action, prospective employees and employers, and contractors and projects. Visit our website and website library for the latest developments and expect specifics at your next training session.