Oklahoma Greenovation, a job-training program headquartered at OSU Institute of Technology, is once again being recognized, this time with the Henry Bellmon Sustainability Award in Responsible Economic Growth.
The Henry Bellmon Sustainability Awards aim to raise awareness and reward those people, agencies, organizations or companies that dedicate themselves to a balanced approach toward quality of life for all, responsible economic growth, and environmental stewardship. The awards gala is Sept. 17 at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa.
The Greenovation program started in 2011 after the Oklahoma Department of Commerce received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to implement the program for the state’s construction industry and energy efficiency services.
OSUIT is the lead institution in the consortium that also includes Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City and Tulsa Community College.
The Greenovation program offers on-the-job training as well as LEED training, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, through partnerships with employers in the construction industry.
“We reach out to those with barriers to employment. Those who are disabled, veterans, previously incarcerated, longtime unemployed, females,” said Anna Dinsmore, Greenovation grant coordinator at OSUIT’s Economic Development Training Center. “We also recruit employer-partners within the construction industry.”
So far more than 500 participants have gone through on-the-job training with about 100 employer-partners, who are then reimbursed for up to 300 hours of training through the grant.
“Some of our participants have barriers to full-time employment, so they’re floating from job to job. We ask employers to take a chance, and we will subsidize their on-the-job training,” Dinsmore said, and that can make a big impact on the state. “With over 500 participants, many retaining employment after job training, they are then contributing to the economy of the community they live and work in.”
Rebekah Thompsen is green training program manager at TCC and works with students and participants taking LEED training.
After two days of training, participants can take the LEED Green Associate exam, which qualifies them to work on LEED energy efficient projects.
“People who have been trained in sustainable building practices are going out to construction companies, contracting companies, architectural firms and design firms and creating a greener state, a more efficient state and an economically responsible state,” Thompsen said.
Last year, Vice President Joe Biden recognized Oklahoma Greenovation as a national model in his “Ready to Work” report.
Rex Godsey is an instructor in the Electrical Construction program at OSUIT and has seen the benefits of the Greenovation grant first hand.
“The Greenovation grant was an opportunity to give back to our industry partners that have historically supported our program. It gives them the opportunity to recoup some of their money when they take on our students as interns for on-the-job-training,” Godsey said.
Students and participants enrolled in OSUIT’s technical programs all must complete a paid internship as part of the program curriculum, and hiring and training interns usually costs companies more money than it makes them, he said.
“We’ve been able to add additional industry partners who have been enticed by the grant,” Godsey said. “It’s also allowed companies to increase the wages of our interns and it encourages companies to hire students or participants who they may not have hired otherwise.”