Everyone and everything is “going green” these days, and the employment sector is no exception. Although New York City certainly doesn't feel like the most environmentally-friendly city in the world, the city's foundations are betting big on green jobs.
The Robin Hood Foundation recently awarded a $240,000 grant to LaGuardia Community College to train unemployed and underemployed adults for jobs in the green jobs sector. The foundation-funded Green Jobs Training Program “will provide participants with the necessary industry-specific and job readiness skills that will prepare them for environmentally-friendly jobs and will assist them in seeking employment in three green sectors: green cleaning and housekeeping; operations and maintenance; and waste management.” (See Robin Hood Foundation: New York City Grants).
Reinforced by some NBC prime time television programming, community colleges tend to carry a certain stigma. However, LaGuardia was voted one of the top three community colleges in the United States. Perhaps changing hotel bedsheets and taking out the trash don't sound like the most glamorous jobs in the world, but they're essential jobs, and even they are “going green.”
“This program is positioned to contribute effectively to Robin Hood’s mission of alleviating poverty and enhancing opportunities for a large subset of disadvantaged New Yorkers,” said Dr. Gail O. Mellow, president of LaGuardia Community College. “The training and job placement to be offered through the program will provide marketable skills to people working to lift themselves out of poverty.”
The foundation-supported program is expected to train 150 students over the next year in one of these three sectors, as well as developing their job readiness skills and connecting them with employers who pride themselves on environmentally-sustainable practices. Everything from LEED certification to key sustainability concepts, customer service training and workforce development will be covered in the program.
LaGuardia's “green jobs” program is targeted exclusively at low-income residents of New York. This is a particularly effect grant program for a foundation whose motto is “Fight Poverty Like a New Yorker.” LaGuardia also proved its effectiveness to the foundation, which depends on reliable nonprofits to perpetuate its commitment to philanthropy. LaGuardia's Adult and Continuing Education Division, which is a grant-funded program, has been a major player in workforce training since the 1980s. More recently, the school proved its effectiveness with the Queens Botanical Garden, which successfully trained 390 people, placing 240 at 175 different companies.
A recent New York State Department of Labor report paints a promising picture for green jobs in the city. Thanks to the Robin Hood Foundation, educated and skilled workers will be ready to step in where needed in the future.