In communities where Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) programs do not exist, residents have limited access to environmental remediation jobs. Environmental remediation jobs are often given to trained workers from outside the community with the required skills and certifications needed for employment. Communities with EWDJT programs provide the necessary training and certifications for employment allowing the residents to benefit from opportunities created by Brownfields redevelopment.
The EPA EWDJT program has demonstrated that with a small amount of EPA start-up assistance, communities can establish sustainable EWDJT programs by leveraging established local resources. Rather than funding an entirely new training program, the EWDJT approach is to essentially use EPA assistance as a type of venture capital required to organize and bring environmental training to communities. Once established, the EWDJT program can then rely on partnerships and leveraging from existing programs to continue operation.
Program maintenance and sustainability includes issues, activities, and an organizational structure related to the continued operation of the EWDJT program. Securing long-term financial support is one of the most critical issues in creating sustainability. Another less obvious but equally important issue is program operation, usually associated with program maintenance. Maintaining and sustaining a quality EWDJT program requires continued interest to keep the program current and relevant. Program accomplishments must exceed the expectations of partners, supporters, and public officials in addition to capturing the attention of employers and new stakeholders.
In order to continue the healthy operation of an EWDJT program, outcomes must demonstrate quality and value to all parties—trainees, stakeholders, employers, and the community.
Unlike many grant programs, a considerable amount of attention needs to be directed toward partnering, recruiting students, placing graduates, tracking, and funding activities. Each partner’s expected contribution to maintenance and sustainability must be made clear with goals and objectives identified.
The intent of EPA’s EWDJT program has been to provide only seed or start-up assistance to establish community-based environmental training. Therefore, each EWDJT program needs to make the transition from start-up to sustainability. As start-up assistance decreases, the key to success is to develop an institutionalized, long-term training program that maintains relevance and contributes to the community. Some grantees have been successful in developing sustainable organizations, while others have not achieved that goal.
What are the differences between programs that have been sustained and programs that have not?
Several activities can encourage growth and sustainability among EWDJT programs.
- Organizational structure, affiliations, and evaluation
- Fundraising and program maintenance
- Public relations
- Tuition-based training