Labor Department Releases More Green Jobs Training Grants

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More than three dozen organizations – including several community colleges and youth-serving agencies – will split $150 million in “green jobs” grants released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The grants – dubbed Pathways out of Poverty grants and part of a larger, $500 million green jobs initiative under the Recovery Act – are meant to help disadvantaged communities “gain access to the good, safe and prosperous jobs of the 21st century green economy," U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in a statement announcing the grants.

The labor secretary said green jobs offer “tremendous opportunities” for those who are prepared to work them.

That’s where youth-serving agencies and organizations such as CNY Works Inc. – one of 38 organizations to be awarded the grants – come in.

CNY Works Inc. will partner with the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse to train approximately 750 individuals – roughly a quarter of them disadvantaged youths – for jobs in the emerging so-called “green economy.”

Michael Irwin, program manager at CNY Works Inc., said the jobs will be within construction, as electricians’ apprentices and the like, and involve taking a green approach to the work.

Even though it’s unclear just how vibrant the green economy will be and how many jobs it will produce, Irwin says the green jobs training provided under CNY’s $3.7 million grant will help make trainees more employable.

“You’ve got to look forward, not backward,” Irwin said. “Looking at these jobs, it makes sense to either go through the training and get a job right away, or, as the jobs evolve, you’re preparing for the future as well.”

Irwin said CNY Works Inc., which serves as the federally-funded one-stop location in Syracuse, N.Y., has talked with area employers with green jobs to ensure that work is lined up for some trainees when they finish the program. He says the program should be in operation by March.

Other youth-serving agencies to win Pathways out of Poverty grants include local and national organizations, such as Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America, Inc., which received  $4.9 million, to lesser-known Boley Centers, Inc. of St. Petersburg, Fla., which was awarded  $2.3 million to serve disadvantaged and unemployed youths; and PathStone Corp., of Rochester, NY,  which received $8 million to provide training in deconstruction, renewable energy and recycling to high school dropouts, among others.

To view a complete list of grant recipients and their project descriptions, go to http://www.doleta.gov/pdf/Pathways_Poverty_grants.pdf

The final portion of the $500 million in Recovery Act green jobs training money is scheduled to be released in the coming weeks, according to the labor department.