College Unveils $3.18 Million Green Jobs Training Program for Low-Income Residents in Parts of North Philadelphia, Kensington and Port Richmond

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 18, 2010 — Community College of Philadelphia today unveiled a program that will, in as little as seven weeks, train 250 residents from the city’s most impoverished communities for jobs in the rapidly growing construction/weatherization and green manufacturing industries.

The College's Job Ready Training Program (JRTP) is funded by a $3.18 million Pathways Out of Poverty grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, authorized by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grant will be used by the College and its community partners to fund two job training program tracks: Green manufacturing or Construction/Weatherization.

"Through this federal grant the College will provide training to hundreds of low-income Philadelphia residents in the rapidly growing energy efficiency and green manufacturing industries. This grassroots effort, done in conjunction with numerous community partners, is designed to help Philadelphians get on the path to work and to achieving a successful career," said Stephen M. Curtis, president of Community College of Philadelphia.

"This is really what workforce development is all about in the 21st Century,"Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter said. "It is more than just training people for jobs. It is about preparing people for careers."

The Philadelphia grant was among 38 Pathways Out of Poverty federal grants, totaling $150 million. The College will manage its grant in cooperation with many partners including Urban Industry Initiative (UII), Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA), Educational Data Systems Inc. (EDSI), Pennsylvania CareerLinks Philadelphia, the National Comprehensive Center for Fathers (NCCF), and Local Union 502 of the Ironworkers.

JRTP participants will be recruited from Port Richmond, Kensington and Upper/Lower North Philadelphia. These neighborhoods include some of the most impoverished and crime-ridden communities in Philadelphia. It is estimated that in these neighborhoods there are at least 43,148 unemployed adults; approximately 64,000 high school dropouts; 5,600 to 9,200 ex-offenders; and approximately 82,000 disadvantaged individuals. Many residents in these neighborhoods lack the basic math and reading skills required to succeed in today’s workplaces.

"As you hear all the time, it’s about jobs," said U.S. Representative Robert A. Brady, whose district includes many of the residents who will be served by the JRTP. "We’re giving people a second chance."

"This is really what the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is all about," said U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, who also represents a district that includes many of the residents that will be served by the JRTP. "It is programs like this that will bring us out of this recession.”

The JRTP offers students two training tracks and the opportunity to gain valuable certifications. The training tracks include:

  • Entry-Level Green Manufacturing Training – 10-week program, four days a week, for 7.5 hours a day for a total of 300 hours serving 150 students (six cohorts of 25 students). Trainees will learn basic workplace skills related to careers in manufacturing, including mathematics, reading with understanding, writing clearly and concisely, OSHA and job safety, and exposure to relevant technology. Includes onsite tours with local green manufacturers facilitated by the College and UII.
  • Entry-Level Construction/Weatherization Training – Weatherization training will run 40 hours a week for seven weeks, totaling 280 hours (seven cohorts of 15 students). 100 students will receive basic skills/academic course work administered by the College and 120 hours of job readiness/soft skills training by NCCF. NCCF also will provide probation support and re-integration into society for ex-offenders. ECA will provide job specific training focused on weatherization tactics, lead safety, crew safety and lab/field training.
  • Certification – Green manufacturing trainees will receive an industry-recognized certificate issued jointly by the College and the Manufacturing Alliance of Philadelphia (MAP) and a National Career Readiness Certificate endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers. Construction/weatherization trainees will be tested in order to receive Pennsylvania Labor and Industry certification as installers.

"This is an innovative program and what makes it innovative is the basic skills component. It is very intense, almost like a boot camp," said Steve Jurash, president and CEO of the Urban Industry Initiative and president and CEO of the Manufacturing Alliance of Philadelphia.

Jurash said there are 1,300 manufacturers in Philadelphia and the average wage for manufacturing jobs in the city is $49,000 a year. "That is an entrée into the middle class," he said.

At least 28 local green manufacturing and weatherization employers have agreed to interview/hire JRTP graduates. The College and its partners are continuing to cultivate relationships with green employers through advertisements and agency outreach. JRTP trainees also will receive hands-on counseling during and after the program.