Step One – Student Recruitment
Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) general program awareness materials may take several forms. The most common are printed brochures and flyers. Others include:
- Public service announcements (PSAs)
- Press releases
- Newspaper articles and general interest stories
- Videos and YouTube presentations
- Television or radio interviews
- Presentations at conferences and community meetings
- General and graduate referrals
- Print materials—brochures and flyers
- Social media
Publications and media pieces usually discuss the monetary, professional, and personal rewards associated with environmental jobs. Other information may answer the questions below.
- What is an environmental job?
- Who would I work for?
- What would I do?
- Are there jobs available?
- Is there opportunity for advancement?
- How much education or training will I need?
- How do I get more information?
The level of detail allotted to each of the above topics depends upon the type of media used. Several EWDJT programs have developed videos for recruitment and general awareness of the program.
The next level of exchange in the recruitment process is the information packet. Information packets should contain specific and detailed program information.
- Program length
- Training dates, meeting places, and times
- Courses offered—supplemental courses available
- Financial and support services available
- Time commitment and costs
- Expectations from the program staff
- What participants should expect from the program
- Entrance requirements
- Program guidelines and rules
- Application and acceptance procedures
Information packets can be sent in response to requests for additional information, and used as handout materials for presentations and open house recruitment events. It can be as comprehensive as resources permit. Some packets also include information about the instructors or the institution, and may include a short CD or video.
Application materials can take a variety of formats. Many government and community agencies have a standard application that all participants must complete. Note that because of the special nature of some environmental jobs, additional or supplemental questions may be necessary.
Some example questions specific to EWDJT environmental jobs include:
- Do you have a driver’s license? Often employers will require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) for employment.
- Are you an ex-offender? Some programs work with ex-offenders. Some employers will not hire ex-offenders because of the nature of the job.
- Can you work in confined spaces?
- Are you afraid of heights?
- Do you have physical handicaps that might prevent you from performing the job you wish to fill?
- Would your physical condition prevent you from wearing SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) gear? Physicals are required to wear SCBAs.
- Can you pass a drug test?
It is important that students have a clear understanding of the program expectations prior to acceptance. Therefore, each applicant should be given a student handbook along with the application. Student handbooks spell out program expectations, and disciplinary and expulsion policies. Equally important is a clear understanding of graduation requirements. Many EWDJT programs use a contract to verify that the student understands and agrees to comply with the policies.
Most communities have local workforce organizations operating under a variety of names and structures including JobLink Centers, Workforce Investment Boards (WIB, WIA, WIOLA), Career Centers, or OneStop Centers. For political and organizational reasons, it may be necessary to work with local employment centers as part of the recruitment process.
Working with the local WIB or career center as an initial recruitment and placement tool is a good start but not the only or final solution. EWDJT participant slots are limited and must be granted to deserving residents most likely to succeed. Finding applicants who will complete the program, attend all classes, enjoy opportunities presented, and most likely to be hired is a multi-level screening process.
Local career centers can start the process by providing a supply of interested applicants. Many programs supplement or substitute career center referrals with direct recruitment activities including open house events, job fairs, awareness sessions, presentations, word-of-mouth, and marketing promotions.
In addition to referrals, local career centers can provide analytical student assessment tools. Assessment tests administered by career centers may include:
- Tests of Adult Basic Education (TABE)
- Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS)
Often these tests are administered by the career center as are other additional screening services. Each student assessment test has advantages and drawbacks. Each can provide certificates for potential employers, and provides a good measure of a student’s knowledge of reading, math, and informational skills. While TABE tests are most common among EWDJT programs, all are being used depending on local preferences. Standards for accepting students into the environmental training program range from grade levels 8–10.
Career center resources should be used to leverage and supplement internal recruitment, assessment, screening, and selection efforts.
Over the years, grantees have used a variety of strategies for applicant screening in addition to analytical and subjective applicant assessment. The techniques listed below are some of the advanced screening techniques used by EWDJT grantees for short lists of candidates being considered.
- One-on-one and group interviews
- Family visits
- Open house and working sessions
Pre-training (training such as life skills or construction trades not related to environmental training with the best and most motivated students offered advanced environmental training opportunities)