The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded The Enterprise Center in Chattanooga a $300,000 grant to provide training that could result in 60 new full-time jobs for local residents, leaders said Thursday.
“We will be sending 60 applicants to the program,” Wayne Cropp with The Enterprise Center said. “The program will provide certifications in health and safety. There will be some environmental training. It means positions in the energy sector, in the manufacturing sector.”
Leaders said that they expect an “explosion” of green jobs in coming years.
According to BusinessClimate.com and a study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, green goods and services account for 3.1 million jobs, which is 2.4 percent of total employment. And the green sector is growing quickly.
Cropp said at a morning news conference that 60 people chosen to go through the 13- to 14-week training program will get 202 hours of training.
More than 100 hours of training to get a commercial driver’s license is also available for participants who qualify. The training will be at the Urban League of Chattanooga and includes hands-on, on-site training as well.
Mike Norman with the EPA said that about 75 percent of participants get placed in long-term jobs. Leaders said that those who don’t make it into the program have the potential to get other resources from The Enterprise Center and other local job-creation organizations.
The grant has the potential to generate $1.7 million in annual employment dollars for the community, officials also said.
As of May 2011, more than 6,600 people had been training through this program.
More than 4,400 people have been placed in full-time employment in the environmental field after completing the training.
“We are trying to make sure that we are providing jobs in the community that are needed in the environmental field,” Cropp said. “We are working to make sure that unemployed and underemployed [people] in the community have the training and expertise necessary to work in the explosion of jobs that we see in the future in the green jobs sector."
Patsy Hazlewood, Southeast Tennessee’s regional director for the Department of Economic and Community Development, said this training program aligns with Gov. Bill Haslam’s economic plan.
She said the training can be life-changing and helps bring area residents out of poverty and unemployment. She also said that a trained workforce is needed so that leaders can continue to recruit businesses to Chattanooga.
According to Nooga.com archives, a recent report from Robert Half International, a staffing agency that has Chattanooga offices, revealed that, despite the attention to the high unemployment rate, some employers can’t find workers with the needed skills.
“High general unemployment is obscuring the fact that specialized talent is in short supply, leading to candidate shortages—especially in technology and finance,” according to the report from Robert Half.
In March, CNNMoney reported that some U.S. manufacturers are searching for skilled workers outside the United States because they can't find them in America.
“This grant will allow us to work on providing those kinds of skilled employees, particularly in a field that is growing,” Hazlewood said.
The training will provide opportunities for people to move up into better positions, she also said.
Norman said there are many success stories that have come out of similar training in the past.
“There are many wonderful stories that have come out of this program,” he said. “When the Gulf oil spill hit, a lot of our trained workers went down there to work. We had placement agencies just calling left and right. We have other situations where the trainees have gone on to lead the program that they once were trainees for."