Conducting a Community and Stakeholder Assessment

Begin a search for stakeholders and information about the community in the offices of city government beginning with the mayor’s office. Request contact information and introductions to applicable divisions including an introduction to city council members, especially in the target communities. In community and economic development offices—Request contact information and introductions to community groups in the target communities. In environment and health offices—Request contact information and introductions to Brownfield ARC grantees, and redevelopment and associated cleanup project managers. Inquire about public hearings to announce plans for the proposed Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) program. Document participation in all public meetings. Visit faith-based and civic organizations in the target communities to request contact information for possible stakeholders and partners. RESOURCES EPA EJ Screening and Mapping Tool EPA has a powerful tool called the EJ Screening and Mapping Tool (EJSCREEN). This comprehensive and detailed tool can be used to characterize nearly any neighborhood to provide location, demographic, and environmental data in detail. The mapping tool uses high resolution maps combined with demographic and environmental data to identify places with potentially elevated environmental burdens and vulnerable populations. EJSCREEN’s color-coded maps, bar charts, and reports enable users to better understand areas in need of increased environmental protection, health care access, housing, infrastructure improvement, community revitalization, and climate resilience. EJSCREEN can highlight communities with greater risk of exposure to pollution based on eight pollution and environmental indicators including particulate matter, and proximity to traffic and Superfund sites. These indicators are combined with demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Five-year Summary Survey enabling users to identify areas with minority or low-income populations who also face potential pollution issues. Cleanups in My Community Cleanups in My Community allows users to map and list hazardous waste cleanup locations and grant areas. The website includes details about those cleanups, and provides information on grants and additional related information. Read More
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Best Practices in Labor Market Assessment

Establish long-term relationships with potential employers. This is time and labor intensive, but one of the most important components of sustainable job training programs. As employers are identified, take the steps below. Bring them into the training process as participants in training. Ask them to serve on advisory boards. Ask them to provide curriculum guidance. Document your meetings. Start and/or expand an employer contact file. This will be used later when placing graduates in jobs. Ask them to consider Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) graduates for available jobs. Document in writing if possible. Below are some examples of employers who look for EWDJT graduates with environmental remediation skills and certifications. Local unions Local government organizations Manpower and temp firms Consultants—remediation and service providers Manufacturing firms Chemical and refining facilities Municipal facilities and utilities Painting companies Construction and deconstruction companies Transportation and material handling operations Scrap, recycling, storage, and landfill operations Use yellow pages and search engines to identify potential employers including labor unions, consultants, service providers, and large manufacturing firms. Seek out temp and manpower organizations for possible interest in environmental technicians. Contact local municipal agencies regarding possible stakeholder interest. This effort will be useful in establishing a responsive curriculum. The labor market assessment (LMA) results not only guide the training program, but also may be used: To promote business and industry ownership in the EWDJT program. To assure employers that graduates meet their job criteria and performance standards. As a public relations tool to show effectiveness of the business/EWDJT program partnership. To provide a source of workers for First Hire and Project Labor Agreements, when applicable. Grantees of EPA’s EWDJT program identified best practices for sustainable employment in the following areas: Conduct an LMA. Hire someone to conduct the LMA and present information to committees. Form an advisory board with local employers (e.g., engineering firms). Recruit advisory board members who may hire your graduates. Have signed agreements with employers to hire graduates. Partner with employment agencies. Partner with workforce development agencies. Contact and involve appropriate federal agencies (e.g., labor, commerce) in assessment projects. Involve the mayor’s office. Develop an information network. Involve just-in-time staffing operations. Form alliances with organized labor. Tie in Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) funding with new technology. Read More
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Sample Labor Market Assessment Survey for Environmental Technology

See the sample labor market assessment survey that can be customized to meet the needs of any organization. You will need Acrobat Reader to see this file. If you do not have the software, you may use this link to download the latest version of Adobe Reader. Read More
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Conducting Labor Market Assessments

A labor market assessment (LMA) may be done on a large or small scale. In the context of Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) programs, the LMA is usually a local effort and is essential to assess the extent and type of education and training needed by local employers. To complete a comprehensive LMA, all four of the activities below should be conducted. Begin with a search of available local LMAs specific to environmental employers and industrial firms. These reports will begin to provide generalized information about the local labor market. Use yellow pages and search engines to identify potential employers, manufacturing firms, and temp and manpower organizations. Use the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool (EJSCREEN). This massive database combines environmental and demographic indicators in maps and reports. EJSCREEN identifies and locates Superfund sites and major emitters in the community. Distribute a survey instrument to potential employers. The survey can be sent to either the entire population or a representative sample. Can include a large number of employers. Return rate is usually low, and identifying employers who should receive the survey and their addresses can be time-consuming. Because of this, surveying is best handled by institutions that provide administrative and financial support. Include a cover letter explaining the purpose of the survey as well as a self-addressed, stamped envelope to return the completed survey. A sample LMA survey is provided at the end of this chapter. Convene a focus group of potential employers to collect information through a strategic group interview. Smaller, more intimate group. Easier to plan. Information gathered tends to be more detailed than a survey. Difficult to find a date and time that works for everyone invited. Conduct one-on-one, face-to-face meetings with individual employers. Face-to-face meetings with individual employers usually yield more successful results for most EWDJT programs. There are several issues that may be discussed when conducting LMA activities. Type and size of the organization as well as its products and/or services. Wage for entry-level personnel. Minimum level of education, skills, knowledge, and certifications required for employment. Restrictions or constraints that would prevent employment. Required work experience for employment. Employer’s interest/ability to provide leveraged resources. Other organization referrals that may also be interested in hiring well-trained graduates. Always leave with an action plan, commitment, or closure. Always invite the employer to attend classes, graduations, and social events. When EWDJT grantees have already formed an advisory board, many programs will rely heavily on their advisory board members, particularly local employers, to provide valuable insight into the types of jobs available at Brownfields sites and the types of skills needed by area employers. To get a better sense of technician-level jobs in the environmental technology field, review the Defining Environmental Technology Report published by the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC). The report identifies thirteen occupational categories and corresponding tasks. Each occupational category includes examples of job titles and tasks typically performed in that area. Share the report with local employers and advisory board members to help narrow the focus on the types of environmental jobs to assess. The advisory board members may also recommend other employers to contact for additional labor market information. While there are websites that provide national and state labor market information, EWDJT grantees have found community-specific information to be the most useful. Following are examples of professional environmental organizations to contact, some of which have state and local chapters: Academy of Certified Hazardous Materials Managers Air and Waste Management Association Environmental Assessment Association Institute of Hazardous Materials Management National Association of Environmental Professionals National Society of Professional Engineers Society of Women Environmental Professionals ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Labor Market Information Center CareerOneStop National Association of State Workforce Agencies Labor Market Information Training Institute Read More
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Best Practices in Community Assessment

In the Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) Request for Proposals (RFP) ranking criteria, “Community need and description” accounts for about ten percent of the overall EWDJT proposal evaluation. Conducting comprehensive and carefully planned assessments may aid in responding to many other ranking criteria as part of the proposal review process. Meaningful assessments need to begin early as they become the basis for developing partnerships, recruitment strategies, curriculum development, and placement strategies. Community assessment activities often include: Assessing the neighborhood to determine location, prospective participants, and environmental justice issues. Assessing stakeholders to identify and develop neighborhood partnerships. Verifying community organization interest and involvement. Identifying and establishing neighborhood leveraging opportunities. Pinpointing special factors and designations attributed to target areas. ASSESSING THE NEIGHBORHOOD TO DETERMINE LOCATION, PROSPECTIVE PARTICIPANTS, AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ISSUES It is not sufficient to simply pull data from the mayor’s office or Internet that provides the demographic information requested in the RFP. Special attention needs to be given to prospective participants who are most deserving and likely to succeed. Retention and placement are highly dependent on the quality and determination of program participants. Special populations to target may include: Women interested in nontraditional trades. Ex-offenders. Specific underserved ethnic groups. Additional issues to consider relate to students in the classroom, and whether instructors and students can be successful despite possible disparities: To what extent will remedial education and life skills education be necessary? Can underserved youth work and learn with older mature participants? Will cultural disparities inhibit team building? Could gang or criminal history cause classroom disruptions? Each of these issues could influence training, retention, and placement and should be considered when targeting prospective applicant populations. EPA defines environmental justice (EJ) as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA’s goal is to provide an environment where all people enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and equal access to the decision-making.” The EWDJT program contributes to environmental justice goals and objectives by providing environmental training to disadvantaged community residents so they can secure local employment opportunities created by economic redevelopment remediation. ASSESSING STAKEHOLDERS TO IDENTIFY AND DEVELOP NEIGHBORHOOD PARTNERSHIPS Partnering with local stakeholders (e.g., community groups, community leaders, service providers, and employers) during the planning process is essential. (See Building Partnerships for more details.) It is important that all of these groups are active in the community under consideration. Recruiting stakeholders in the prospective target community provides many benefits during planning and program development, especially when they actively participate in the process. Stakeholders to be included in the community assessment efforts include city offices such as: Economic development. Health and environment. Community development. Brownfields. Human services. Labor and workforce development. City council representatives (especially in the target community). The location of community development corporations may additionally influence the location of the proposed target communities. VERIFYING COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION INTEREST AND INVOLVEMENT Developing an EWDJT program in a community with little or no interest in the program is a waste of time and resources. Identify: Community groups. Faith-based organizations. Fraternal organizations. Community nonprofit organizations. Local chambers of commerce. These organizations need to participate in the grant development process. Confirm that they are willing to help in awareness, recruitment, and placement activities. Hold community meetings prior to making final decisions regarding the impacted community. This will serve to help identify local interest in the program. IDENTIFYING AND ESTABLISHING NEIGHBORHOOD LEVERAGING OPPORTUNITIES Leveraging opportunities should be considered as part of the community assessment. Training and student support services can be provided by local community colleges, universities, training consultants, and fire and first responder teams. Workforce Investment Boards and affiliates, Goodwill, Salvation Army, YouthBuild, Strive, Conservation Corps, and other training and outreach organizations are located in many underserved neighborhoods. It is important that leveraging service partners are active in the proposed target community. A community stakeholder list can be large, and it requires a significant effort to identify and organize. However, systematic research will provide information to develop a detailed program plan that includes references, partnerships, employer relationships, and other important factors. PINPOINTING SPECIAL FACTORS AND DESIGNATIONS ATTRIBUTED TO TARGET AREAS Do not overlook special factors that affect community residents such as enterprise zones, redevelopment zones, community development projects, plant closures, chemical spills, or accidents. These special factors should be considered as part of the community assessment. Since they are public and newsworthy issues, they are easy to identify. 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Introduction

Conducting community and labor market assessments are two of the most important components to building an Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) program. A program can potentially do a huge disservice to students if the proper analysis isn’t performed addressing community and employer needs. Understanding the target community and assessing employer needs should be the first steps in EWDJT program development. Community and labor market assessments are usually local endeavors and are essential to: Assess the demand for workers in a specific community. Define the skills and certifications associated with available jobs. Identify education and training requirements associated with available jobs. Identify restrictions and constraints associated with entry into available jobs. Locate prospective participants and determine potential environmental justice issues. Determine community interest and involvement. Identify neighborhood leveraging opportunities. Assess special factors attributed to the target areas. Without assessments, an EWDJT program may fail due to a lack of availability of local jobs for program graduates or lack of community interest. There are several questions to consider. What companies might need graduates with EWDJT skills and certifications? Are employers expanding or reducing their workforce? Are there future workforce expansion plans? Are jobs local, regional, or national? Must applicants relocate? Community and labor market assessments may include general assessments from state or local government statistics, detailed surveys of local employers and neighborhoods, and specific one-on-one interviews with company employees and community residents. Extensive assessments are difficult and take time and patience. But if done correctly, they could provide: Guidance for: Recruitment and screening of applicants. Curriculum and certificate offerings. Additional skills that will facilitate employment. Timing and strategies for the best placement of graduates. Identification of: Program supporters. Advisory board members and participants. Leveraged resources. Guest speakers and student mentors. Potential employers. A path for sustainability with: Potential new partners. New funding opportunities. Pathways to legislative or other governmental support. In addition to providing information during program start-up, community and labor market assessments that are performed on a regular basis are also valuable for existing programs. If placement rates begin to drop, employers’ needs begin to shift, or community interest begins to dwindle, periodic assessments help align program, industry, and community needs. Community and labor market assessments can be much more than simple information-gathering efforts. When done properly, they form a solid base upon which to direct and implement the entire EWDJT program. Read More
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