Oklahoma Greenovation, a job-training program headed up by OSU Institute of Technology, has recently been recognized as a national model in Vice President Joe Biden’s “Ready to Work” report.
The Oklahoma Department of Commerce received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in 2011 to implement the program for the state’s construction 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, run through the Economic Development and Training Center at OSUIT, offers on-the-job training as well as LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and other green-energy training through partnerships with employers in the construction industry.
“Oklahoma is behind other states in LEED construction. This grant is great as an incentive to train more employees in energy efficient construction and for companies to hire those employees,” said EDTC Director Mark Hays.
Anna Gannan, administrative coordinator for Oklahoma Greenovation, said since the program started in 2012, nearly 500 people have gone through on-the-job or LEED training at 92 employer-partners.
“We reach out to those with barriers to employment. Those who are disabled, veterans, longtime unemployed, females,” Gannan said. “We also recruit employer-partners within the construction industry.”
By the time the grant is complete, at least 1,000 people will have gone through the training program.
The program allows participants and companies to learn about green construction practices and technologies.
“They’re learning together,” she said, and employers benefit from the program by saving on training costs and may even qualify for tax credits.
More and more clients are requesting their construction projects be more energy efficient, so having a workforce that can accommodate those projects is a necessity.
“Companies are always looking for employees with a varied skill set,” Hays said.
Oklahoma Greenovation was recently named one of 35 workforce programs featured in the White House’s “What’s Working” report and is the only program from the state to receive this recognition.
The report, released by the Vice President’s office in conjunction with the President’s signing of the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act, highlights successful job-driven strategies and programs that are working and making a difference in the country’s workforce development.
“To be identified as a best practice is an honor,” said Gannan.