A Greener Diverse Workforce

Image courtesy of Flickr/Intel Free Press

When people think of highly specialized jobs, they tend to think of computer-based tech jobs. But areas of specialization are quickly developing elsewhere. Building operations and waste management jobs are becoming increasingly specialized, with a focus on sustainability.

Jauna Johnson and Rachel Moak are working to train people for “green jobs” in these often overlooked industries as employees of NYDesigns, an economic development program of the City University of New York at LaGuardia Community College. Through NYDesigns’ Green Jobs Training Program, unemployed and underemployed adults are trained for careers in waste management or green cleaning and housekeeping.

“We focus on people with barriers like homelessness or a history of drug abuse, and other things of that nature,” said Johnson, a NYDesigns program coordinator. “We are getting people that do have a rough time when they first come in, but by the end of our program, we’re able to help them build those skills.”

The training program aims to develop a diverse workforce of employees with “green” skills that can have a positive impact at any company.

Take for example, the story of a program graduate who found a job as an auto mechanic. 

The graduate received “additional job readiness skills in our program, and he took the initiative to ‘green’ what he was doing,” said Moak, a NYDesigns project manager. “He suggested one less toxic chemical over what they were currently using in the shop. Just by having this knowledge, trainees can take the initiative at their workplace and convey it to their employers who may not have a green initiative.”