A recent post in the New York Times Energy and Environment Green Blog is praising New York City’s growing green economy as an important source of jobs for undeserved communities like the South Bronx, which suffer from high unemployment, underinvestment, and environmental injustice.
The blog contribution by former deputy director of the New York Industrial Retention Network Sarah Crean highlights the work of a number of programs in New York using Roots of Success — including The Consortium for Worker Education, The Osborne Association, Sustainable South Bronx and Non-Traditional Employment for Women. The South Bronx-based training center that these programs developed offers training in “hard” and “soft” skills — from basic plumbing to upgrading electrical systems for energy efficiency — along with courses on environmental literacy and seeking and holding a job. The article praises these programs for working to close the skill gaps among those at lower socioeconomic levels, with the help of resources like Roots of Success, and for developing pathways to the green economy for some of New York’s most difficult to employ residents.
Crean also acknowledges the positive behavior changes spurred by participation in the environmental workforce training programs. According to the blog, twice as many studetns reported shopping at farmers’ markets after finished the coursework. Students also reported conserving energy, reducing their water use, and thinking about how they disposed of consumer goods like appliances and clothing. Sean Brailsford, who enrolled in a program through the Osborne Association after passed through the criminal justice system, said the program helped him “realize how much energy I am wasting on little things like cellphone chargers plugged into your wall” and taught him “how to conserve and be less wasteful.”
In just two and a half years Center for Environmental Workforce Training has graduated over 400 participants, over half of whom have gone on to find jobs — mostly with companies doing efficiency upgrades, building maintenance, construction, repairs, sustainable manufacturing, and landscaping. For more information about the CWE Green Industry Development program visit http://www.cwe.org/green_industry_development.php