Turning job training green: a trip to the Treasure Island Jobs Corps

Authors: Ladan Sobhani

Last week several of us from Green For All had a chance to visit the Treasure Island Job Corps (TIJC), one of 122 Job Corps around the country funded by the Department of Labor. TIJC boasts training programs in carpentry, electrical, and other construction trades in addition to other fields, serving low-income youth 16-24 who have faced barriers to career and employment opportunities.

In addition to providing young people with career training, Job Corps provide housing, health insurance, and a modest stipend along with an academic education. A representative of TIJC contacted us a few weeks back to find out how they can make their programs green, and we at Green For All were more than happy to help!

My first reactions upon visiting TIJC were:

  • Wow! THIS is what I want my tax dollars going to, not war. All young adults should have the opportunity to go to a beautiful campus like this and get a career training, rather than thinking that the military is the only alternative to college.
  • What a great opportunity to have an existing, functioning established government program with lots of support services quickly transition to training a workforce in green jobs.

The first thing Green For All is doing to help TIJC go green is to figure out what can be modified in their existing curriculum. Often a small tweak to an existing carpentry, plumbing, electrical program can give trainees the skills needed to go out and weatherize buildings, make them more energy and water efficient, or hook them up with renewable sources of energy.

Through Green For All's Community of Practice, representatives from model green training programs around the country are going to document best practices and be a resource for those who want to add green training to their existing programs. We are identifying the best curriculum, the certifications, and the program elements needed in order to put people on a career pathway to prosperity.

But we also identified other ways we can be involved, such as identifying green restaurant owners to sit on TIJC's Industry Advisory Council to help them establish a composting program and otherwise green their culinary department. Alli Starr also suggested we invite performers from Art in Action–a Green For All ally that empowers youth leaders by engaging arts for social change–to TIJC for a performance.

We're excited that the Treasure Island Job Corps reached out to us and are looking forward to helping them implement their first green construction trade by January 2009!

Ladan Sobhani is Program Manager at Green For All, and manages the Community of Practice.

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