BRIDGEPORT, CT – The WorkPlace, Inc., was joined today by Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) to honor the first class of graduates in their Green-Up Bridgeport initiative.  Funding for this initiative was made possible by a $4 million grant through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Pathways Out of Poverty program funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The purpose of these grants, which fund both green job training and evaluation projects, is to teach workers the skills required in high growth and emerging industries, including energy efficiency and renewable energy.

 “This federal investment in occupational skills training is critical for Bridgeport’s workforce to be ready to meet the challenges of the emerging energy efficiency, renewable energy and other green industries,” said Congressman Himes.  “Putting Americans back to work now is absolutely critical.  When I look at the graduates before me, it is clear that the $4 million investment made possible by the Recovery Act is paying huge dividends.”

In March of this year, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis visited The WorkPlace, Inc. to kick-off the job-training program.  Since that time, The WorkPlace, Inc., along with other partner organizations, over 400 individuals have completed an orientation process and over 200 have completed their initial training that encourages participants to review their career options.  These participants are now receiving training in specialized areas such as HVAC; electricity and plumbing; resource management, drinking water and wastewater treatment; landscaping, recycling and remediation; construction; architecture and engineering; and installation, maintenance and repair. 

 “The WorkPlace not only provides worker training in difficult times, but fosters partnerships in green initiatives,” said Joseph Carbone, president and CEO of The WorkPlace, Inc. “Congressman Himes has been a strong supporter of these initiatives and we are pleased with the success of our Green-Up participants. We look forward to continued successes in this program.”

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 the need to find pathways out of poverty and into employment.  This program offers the opportunity for residents of Bridgeport to immerse themselves in green education and training within four career tracks:  green construction, building energy systems, resource management and transportation.  This funding will make it possible to match the neediest residents with training in occupations that are in-demand in a range of green industries. 

Susan Giordano, president of the Institute of Environmental Management and Technology  Inc. in Shelton explains, “These grant monies have allowed for training in energy and environmental issues for the unemployed and underemployed in Connecticut. This training will lead to jobs in energy and will provide a sound basis for future employment in energy and the environmental sector.”

The individuals recognized today have trained at Environmental Management Geological Consultants, Inc., and had the opportunity to engage in training that will allow them to earn up to six licenses and/or credentials. The participants acknowledged today have chosen to pursue careers in Green Construction and Building Energy Systems.  For many, participation in this program was a life-changing experience. 
“I am extremely honored to accept this award of completion from the Green-Up Bridgeport program.  This award is confirmation that when commitment meets opportunity the impossible becomes reality,” said program participant Anthony Foster.  “This program addressed barriers to employment and gave me the chance to obtain job skills that will lead to competitive employment.”

 “I feel so privileged to have been given this opportunity,” said Michelle Long. “I have been searching for a long time for a career that would give me a sense of accomplishment both professionally and personally. This program has fulfilled both of these criteria by giving me the knowledge to help make the environment a safer place for not only this generation but generations to come.  As a mother of two, that is important to me.”

“The Green-Up program has given me the assurance of gaining state licenses and certificates to enable me to find work in this economy,” said Rondell Young, 32, a lifelong resident of Bridgeport.  “I would recommend this program to anyone who is looking to gain some type of skill or training to better themselves.”