Clover Park Technical College, in partnership with the City of Tacoma, Metropolitan Development Council, and the Tacoma/Pierce County Employment and Training Consortium, is the recipient of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields Job Training Grant for 2008.
The $200,000 job training program won the Washington State Governor’s Award for Best Practice in Workforce Education in 2007. The job training grant provides hands-on training to students in the environmental sciences field over a two-year period. The program places 42 graduates in environmental jobs, and tracks them for one year.
“The EPA provides financial assistance to eligible students through four competitive grant programs, one of which is the Brownfields Job Training Grant,” said Mabel Edmonds, dean of instruction. “This grant provides residents of communities impacted by brownfields with the skills and training needed to effectively gain employment in assessment and cleanup.”
EPA’s Brownfields Program is designed to empower communities, like the City of Tacoma, in economic redevelopment by bringing community partnerships together to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields. A brownfields is a property, the expansion, reuse, or redevelopment of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
Over the next two-years, students will receive training and instruction from the Clover Park Environmental Sciences and Technology Program and the Natural Resources Laboratory and Research Park at Flett Creek, located across the street from the Lakewood campus.
The Brownfields Job Training Grant uses a mix of theory, hands-on training, and outdoor laboratory instruction. Job training consists of four, 200-hour training cycles that include coursework in HAZWOPER; OSHA; safety; asbestos, lead, mold, and heavy metal awareness; confined space awareness; underground storage tanks; and environmental chemistry and sampling.
The EPA estimates there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the United States. The City of Tacoma has identified hundreds of contaminated sites that have lost value and cannot be presently redeveloped for residential, business or recreational use, the majority of which are located in or near low-income neighborhoods. Nearly 28 percent living in the targeted areas are minorities, and more than 12 percent live in poverty.
“Students will be recruited from among low-income residents of Pierce County communities that are impacted by brownfields,” said Edmonds. “This is an excellent opportunity for individuals to gain employable skills in a high-demand industry while simultaneously giving back to their community and making it more livable.”
A lack of qualified people to do clean-up work has impacted efforts to clean-up brownfields. The job training program will select people directly affected by the brownfields to train them to transform contaminated/abandoned sites into usable space for housing, new businesses, new parks or recreational areas.
According to EPA, cleaning up and reinvesting in brownfields properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.
Graduates will have the opportunity to work toward an associate in applied technology degree by enrolling in the Environmental Sciences and Technology Program at Clover Park.
“Credits from the Environmental Sciences and Technology Program are transferable to a four-year college,” said Edmonds. “Furthermore, many of the credits can be applied towards a bachelor’s degree in a variety of areas.”
The City of Tacoma established the initial partnership, and oversees the entire project. The Metropolitan Development Council provides recruiting, and Clover Park Technical College provides the technical, hands-on job training.
Classes are forming now. Classes begins Monday, September 22, 2008. To sign-up, please contact Cynthia Neubauer, (253) 284-9017.
For more information about the Brownfields Job Training Grant at Clover Park, please contact Mabel Edmonds, Dean of Instruction for Workforce Development, at (253) 589-5510.