To assist President Barack Obama’s effort to “train Americans with the skills employers need and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now,” the Third Way identified key traits of successful job training programs in their publication The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Workforce Programs. Each of the seven habits are defined followed by case studies where innovative providers are demonstrating their effectiveness. These habits can only be accomplished if partnerships are developed and nurtured throughout every aspect of a successful and sustainable Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) program.
1. Actively engage local business—Different players in the workforce development field (business, education and training providers, unions, trade association, local governments, and workforce investment boards) need to come together to form training partnerships. Forming these partnerships will ensure that employers have a steady supply of qualified workers, graduates will have a job for them at the end of their training, and local economies and tax bases will grow.
2. Use labor market data to drive decisions—As stated in the Labor Market Assessment (LMA) section, this is one of the most important components to building a successful EWDJT program. Not only will an LMA provide a path for recruitment, training, and placement, it will also identify program supporters, potential employers, and new partners.
3. Treat education like a job—Training programs work best when they simulate the life skills needed in the workplace such as attire, being on time, and working in teams. Business partners can help an EWDJT program identify the life skills they require on the job.
4. Connect people to careers—Placing graduates in long-term careers as opposed to short-term jobs should be the ultimate goal of every EWDJT program. Many times, employers rely on word-of-mouth and hire candidates through referrals. Strong partner relationships will help make an EWDJT program known in the community to better aid graduates being hired for these positions.
5. Provide wrap-around student services—Many of the participants in an EWDJT program have outside issues to deal with—financial, mental health, addiction, childcare, and transportation to name a few. A successful EWDJT program helps students in their complicated lives by offering case management to sign up for government benefits, remedial education or tutoring, life skills and job readiness, counseling, childcare, and subsidized transportation. These services are not eligible costs in an EWDJT grant, but may be leveraged through partnerships that offer these services.
6. Tap innovative funding sources—EWDJT programs must be creative when providing a well-rounded job training program to residents of their community that includes all of the services that students need to be successful. A diverse group of partners will prove most helpful in obtaining monetary, leveraged, and other resources.
7. Embrace evaluation—EWDJT programs can use input from partners to pinpoint areas of weakness and identify areas to improve.
In 1998, the Hazardous Materials Training and Research Institute (HMTRI) was awarded a cooperative agreement from the EPA to provide training to the newly EPA-awarded Job Training and Development Demonstration Pilots. The first HMTRI-conducted workshop brought the initial eleven pilot program recipients together to brainstorm on the best practices for sustainable employment. The pilots identified “best practices” or practices that have worked for their organizations. From this workshop, HMTRI produced the Best Practices for Job Training Programs in Brownfields Redevelopment Initiatives report. Although the report is dated, it still contains valuable information relevant to today’s EWDJT grantees. The best practices identified for building successful partnerships and community involvement follow.