Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Kansas City, KS, Thursday, announced Iowa Western Community College (IWCC) has been selected to receive $200,000 in workforce development and brownfields job training funds from the EPA, to train unemployed and underemployed residents in Council Bluffs and Omaha. IWCC is one of only 15 workforce development organizations in the nation to receive the funding this year. Its project will specifically serve residents of the environmentally impacted neighborhoods of the South Main Brownfields Site in Council Bluffs and northeast Omaha.
Targeted populations include Trade Adjustment Assistance individuals displaced from their jobs due to the competition of foreign imports or due to work activity moving out of the U.S.; unemployed and underemployed individuals, with priority given to veterans, long-term unemployed, residents of the identified contaminated communities; and populations underrepresented in the green and environmental fields, including minorities and women.
IWCC plans to train 100 students, place 80 graduates in jobs, and track graduates for one year. The core training program includes 152 hours of instruction on hazardous materials, lead and asbestos abatement, storm water management, underground storage tank leak prevention, construction debris recycling, green remediation, and environmental health and safety. Participants will also be offered additional training in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) construction and mold contractor remediation.
EPA’s Annual Environmental Workforce Development and Brownfields Job Training Grants allow nonprofit and other organizations to recruit, train, and place predominantly low-income and minority, unemployed and under-employed people living in areas affected by solid and hazardous waste. Typical applicants include community colleges, universities, vocational-technical colleges, workforce development organizations, non-profit organizations and others with an interest in the program.
Nationwide, as of January 2012, approximately 10,275 individuals have completed training, and 7,155 have been placed in full-time employment in the environmental field, with an average starting wage of $14.12 per hour.