- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced $3.5 million in grants to 18 projects as part of its Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) program, which provides training to unemployed and underemployed residents.
- The program is aimed at low-income residents in communities affected by environmental issues, natural disasters, and the closure of manufacturing facilities.
- Training covers fields such as solid waste management, brownfield clean-up, waste treatment and storm-water management, electronics recycling, green remediation, and emergency response.
The waste industry's driver shortage is often highlighted, but skilled workers are also needed in many other roles. Finding them in environmental justice communities which have been affected by hazardous sites is a positive investment for the EPA.
Since this program began in 1998, more than $54 million has been awarded for 256 grants which trained nearly 15,000 people. Many of those people — more than 70% —were employed full-time as a result with an average starting wage of $14.34 per hour. Program graduates have worked on the response teams at disaster sites such as the BP oil spill, World Trade Center, and multiple major hurricanes.
"The EWDJT program is intended to not only help revitalize the land, but also transform the lives of those living on it," Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, said in a statement. "We see this investment as a great way to more directly involve affected communities in their own revitalization."
Current grantees include programs in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Oakland, and Nye County, NV. Participants will learn a wide range of skills at these various programs — hazardous waste management, wetland ecology, asbestos remediation — and have the chance to earn numerous state and federal certifications. Many will also have the opportunity for direct job placement upon completion.