In response to a well-documented significant demand for weatherization services and the clear labor gap to meet this need, the South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC) founded the Green Jobs Academy (GJA). SMOC is in a unique position to offer this training program due to its 38 years of weatherization work through our Energy and Financial Assistance Division, whose experience also includes repairing and replacing heating systems and inefficient large appliances. SMOC’s Workforce Development division provides academic education, workforce development education and job placement services for people living in the community.
In 2010, the Green Jobs Academy was established through a grant of $700,000 from the US Department of Energy and a $250,000 grant from the US Department of Labor. These funds enabled SMOC to build-out a permanent weatherization training facility providing weatherization training, offering subsidized on-the-job training, and job placement for low-income and unemployed individuals preparing them for entry-level living-wage jobs in the weatherization and energy conservation industry. The GJA received further funding from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) to train and place installers, and the Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund to purchase vehicles to provide transportation for academy graduates. In 2013-2014, the GJA received funding from the City of Worcester, two grants from the Commonwealth Corporation and additional funding from MassCEC in order to build a ‘live-fire’ combustion safety lab, which complemented our already existing demonstration combustion safety lab and our BPI certified test house. GJA received funding in 2015 to run a Pathways Out of Poverty pilot program with MassCEC, which focused on women in the Clean Energy field. In 2015, GJA also received funding to purchase and equip a mobile training unit in order to provide on-site, mobile training and oversight for Weatherization Assistance Program network contractors.
In its first year, GJA focused on training individuals as installers. This training included industry recognized certification in RRP Lead Renovation and OSHA 10. In 2011, GJA offered Crew Chief classes, along with Combustion Safety, Advanced Blower Door and OSHA 30. In 2012, ASHRAE62.2 was offered. In 2013, Quality Control Inspector and Lead Safe Weatherization were added to further meet grant requirements and training needs of the WAP and Massachusetts Utilities. In December 2014, RRP Lead Refresher was added to the portfolio. In August of 2015, OSHA Confined Spaces.
The GJA has met and often exceeded outcomes for their state and federal contracts. To-date; 303 low-income and unemployed weatherization installers have graduated; 243 were placed in permanent jobs. The GJA holds Memorandum of Understandings (MOU’s) with 85 employer partners to provide on-the-job training, mentoring and job placement. In addition to Installer training; 287 individuals were trained as Crew Chiefs, 74 were trained as Quality Control Inspectors, 310 were trained in Combustion Safety, 106 in ASHRAE 62.2, 93 in Advanced Blower Door, 86 in OSHA 30, 379 in OSHA 10, 275 in RRP Lead Renovation, 299 in Lead Safe Weatherization, 97 in OSHA Confined Spaces, and 74 in RRP Lead Refresher.