Green Jobs Central Oklahoma
For individuals who are living below or near the poverty level, the current economic downturn has created a unique set of challenges and has heightened their need to find pathways out of poverty into sustainable, full-time employment. Green Jobs Central Oklahoma (GJCO), in partnership with other community organizations, is giving hope to low-income, unemployed or underemployed individuals, including veterans and individuals with a criminal background, by providing access to services that will equip them for green jobs: training, education and job placement assistance. The program serves citizens in the northern region of Oklahoma City, with specific emphasis on northeast Oklahoma City. As a partner in a broader community renewal vision, Whatever It Takes NEOKC, Green Jobs Central Oklahoma offers an improved career pathway and earning potential for residents in these neighborhoods, with the dual goals of increasing individual family resources and raising the overall community per capita income.
GJCO is a U.S. Department of Labor funded, comprehensive program built on an extensive body of research, best practices in employment programs and promising strategies for moving low-income individuals down a pathway toward greater economic stability and security. It involves a range of training services to include career readiness activities and skills training for specific industries. It leverages relationships with employer partners to ensure that provided trainings meet industry standards/company needs while providing GJCO participants with access to jobs, and it provides a range of supportive services to help participants remove barriers to training completion and success. All services are provided at no cost to participants.
GJCO provides opportunities and experiences that participants might not otherwise have access to. The GJCO’s pathway framework challenges participants as they experience graduated levels of stress and responsibility, while encouraging advancement over time to successively higher levels of education and employment in the emerging green industries. Through GJCO’s customized services and continual coaching, participants have access to the resources they need to achieve success from their efforts to gain and keep stable, well-paying jobs.
All GJCO participants take part in the Training Opportunity Preparation Services (TOPS) sessions, spending four days learning skills central to the training, placement, and retention processes that effect job success. TOPS includes instruction about communication and relationship skill-building in the workplace, understanding work cultures, leadership and success strategies, and financial literacy/competency. Sessions also include completion of a personality inventory, as well as resume and interview preparation.
After completing the TOPS workshop, individuals can choose to participate in one of three job training areas: recycling, wind energy, or green transportation. As participants are completing their job skills training, GJCO staff provides each participant with case management services, connection to additional educational opportunities, and career coaching and development.
Recycle Training - Recycle trainees have the option to receive up to 160 hours of classroom instruction based on the nationally renowned Roots of Success curriculum, a comprehensive environmental literacy and job readiness curriculum designed to prepare participants for work in the green industry. The curriculum is broken into different modules, with GJCO participants receiving the following trainings:
- Fundamentals of Environmental Literacy
Participants will also receive hands-on instruction provided by Goodwill Industries, where they become better equipped to do “green” work, such as waste management, engaging in recycling operations, dealing with hazardous environments, and working in warehouse settings.
Upon completion of the recycle training, participants are awarded the following industry recognized or nationally recognized certificates:
- Roots of Success Certificate of Completion
- Forklift Driver Certificate
- OSHA 10-Hour Safety
- OSHA HAZWOPER
Wind Industry Training – Wind industry trainees are taught the latest in wind energy technology during a 100-hour course provided by Oklahoma City Community College. The program consists of the following trainings:
- Enhanced OSHA 10 Hour/First Aid-CPR
- Intro to Wind Industry
- Intro to AC/DC Fundamentals
- Crane and Rigging
- Confined Space
- Torque Tool Safety
- Tower Safety
Upon completion of the wind industry training, participants will receive an industry recognized Wind Farm Assistant certificate along with the following transferrable certifications:
- OSHA 10 Safety
- First Aid & CPR
- Crane and Rigging
- Confined Space
- Torque Tool Safety
- Tower Safety and Rescue
Green Transportation Training - The 160-hour green transportation training is provided by the Center for Transportation Safety (CTS). Participants spend 40 hours learning the Department of Transportation rules and regulations and an additional 40 hours learning driving fundamentals such as parking, shifting, merging, and backing up. Then, trainees spend 80 hours of on-the-road driving time to practice the skills they’ve learned.
Upon completion of the green transportation training, participants will receive the following industry recognized certificates:
- Class A Commercial Drivers License
- OSHA 10 hour Safety
In addition to the overall objective of helping to create a pathway out of poverty for program participants and allowing participants to be engaged in career-building employment opportunities, our specific goals for this program are:
- 700 individuals served.
- 250 program participants trained.
- 190 program participants placed in unsubsidized employment.
Meet GJCO Participants and Read Their Stories
When trying to support four small children, $9.50 an hour doesn’t go far these days; just ask Christopher Adams, Certified Wind Turbine Technician. “Prior to going through the Green Jobs program I was working in a furniture store warehouse, as many hours as I could, and was still at the end of my rope,” said Christopher.
Christopher applied for Green Jobs Central Oklahoma at a local job fair and was invited to be a part of the wind certification program. “I continued to work full-time while going through the classes,” remembers Christopher. “It was intense training but in the end I became a Certified Wind Turbine Technician.” He soon received a phone call for an interview with PCG Wind. He was offered a full-time, position and flew out the next day for his first assignment in the state of Washington.
“It all happened so fast,” said Christopher. “Green Jobs Oklahoma has been such a blessing. They say it’s always darkest before the dawn and that’s been so true for me… but the sun came out! I have a career and a future, and my kids even have medical benefits! The best thing is that now when my children need something, I can actually provide it!”
From her beginnings as an immigrant’s daughter, Viola’s journey began on a rather normal path, earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and beginning law school at Oklahoma City University. But, then came divorce, followed by legal troubles, leading to incarceration.
Not the stereotypical prisoner, Viola used her time to reflect and reconnect with her Lutheran faith. She found hope for a positive future through the support of family, ministries and volunteers and mentors. Most notably, through her previous profession as a worker’s comp claims adjuster, Viola met an attorney who later became her advocate for early parole.
Mainstream life wasn’t easy. Four years of applying for job after job—and being honest about her past—yielded no job offers. She knew if given the chance, that she could do good work and help others. It was when she began volunteering in a state senator’s office, helping with administrative work and solving constituent’s problems that Viola learned about IMCI.
As an IMCI Employment Coordinator, she assisted clients through their training and helped them eliminate any barriers that would prevent them from completing the training or obtaining employment. She also functioned as a coach on how to better implement their job search strategies or present themselves in an appropriate manner. But her biggest strength as an employment coordinator was to provide hope to her clients. “IMCI was the best thing that ever happened to me professionally,” said Viola. “My work at IMCI has given meaning to my mistakes so I can help others.”
After successfully completing a drug rehab program, Terry Clark was working as a cook for a local restaurant chain. “I had been clean for two years and was grateful that I had a job,” said Clark. But he had been struggling to pay child support for his two sons and keep a roof over his head.
“I really enjoyed the professional development classes as well as personal development like financial planning. We also learned to work various pieces of equipment and took classes for OSHA, First Aid and CPR as well. It was great all-around training.”
Clark continued his job at the restaurant until he had an interview opportunity with Goodwill. “I wasn’t expecting for the chance to come up so quickly, but it did and I was offered a position as a bailer, packaging clothing to be shipped to third world countries. It made me feel good that the work I was doing was helping pick up contributions around the city. I’ve now been assigned to a store and have my own route.”
As a full-time employee of Goodwill Industries, Clark admits that he feels differently about himself. “I hold my head up high and have more confidence in myself. I’m proud of what I do and who I work for…and the bills are getting paid,” laughs Clark.