Ty Swenson
A green-job seeker discusses green manufacturing training with a representative from King County during the Greenlight Project job forum at the YWCA Learning Center on Nov. 12.

Greenlight Project helps low income people find green collar jobs

Green jobs forum in White Center offers training opportunities

A packed house hoping to get a foot in the door in the green industry gathered at the YWCA Learning Center in White Center on Nov. 12 to hear about recruitment and training options presented by Got Green at their second annual Community Green Jobs Forum.

“Our mission is to make sure low income communities, particularly communities of color, will benefit from this new clean, green economy,” said Michael Woo, a founding member of Got Green, created in 2008 as project of the White Center Community Development Association.

“It (Got Green) grew out of the community asking questions, ‘Where are the jobs at?’ Everybody, particularly in the political arena, was talking about green jobs but the conversation stayed at the environmental level or the organized labor level, but it wasn’t being brought down to communities who need those jobs the most,” Woo said.

“A lot of people in low income areas didn’t have drivers licenses, they didn’t have four years of algebra and everything else so (we asked) how could we make a pathway for opportunity for them to be a part of (the green economy)?” said Khepra Ptah, another founding member of Got Green.

“We are here, we are ready, we are part of the workforce of tomorrow, so why not include us, make us a part of it,” Ptah added. “So that’s pretty much what Got Green is.”

The two-hour forum offered four training opportunities to career seekers including energy efficiency and weatherization training through Got Green and Laborers’ International Union of North America, deconstruction (salvaging recyclable materials from structures before they are demolished) training through CleanEdison, pre-apprenticeship in green manufacturing through South Seattle Community College and a nine-week training in green manufacturing through the King County Work Training Program.

A graduate of the weatherization training through Got Green and LIUNA who now works for Ecofab, a company that weatherizes and updates houses for energy efficiency, briefly addressed the crowd about his experience.

“I was an unemployed full-time father taking care of my daughter, my background is I’m second generation Senegalese and as far as my education; I have very little so I didn’t have much to fall back on,” he said. “My personal experience has been great. It’s been about a year, year and a half solid I’ve been working.”

“I highly encourage you guys to not wait for someone to come see you,” he added. “You got all the resources right here in the room that you need. I’m not saying that you’re going to see instant results overnight but I promise you if you stay committed that you will see results.”

According to a Got Green newsletter, President Obama pledging $60 billion towards a cleaner and greener environment through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and $500 million from the U.S. Department of Labor for green job training means getting trained for green collar jobs is a good call for one’s future.

Unfortunately, the packed house meant many of those in attendance wouldn’t make the cut for training sessions with limited space.

“You know, obviously there are going to be fewer spots than there are people,” Woo said.

On the positive, Woo said, “You can’t offshore these green jobs.”

To be eligible for the Greenlight Project, attendees had to be 18 years of age, a resident of South Seattle and meet one of the following criteria: unemployed, high-school dropout, ex-offender, veteran or low or no-income.

The Greenlight Project is funded by a $3.6 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Labor through the Workforce Development Council of King County, according to a Got Green newsletter.

For more information on Got Green and the Greenlight Project, visit gotgreen.org.

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