Work2Live WELL: Educating Adults to Pursue Green Collar Careers | eePRO @ NAAEE

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Work2Live WELL: Educating Adults to Pursue Green Collar Careers

Is your organization looking to expand its equity and inclusion work to involve adults? Need an example of how others are investing in this work? Learn more about Work2Live WELL.

Work2Live WELL began in late winter of 2018. Born from a capstone project during the Maryland Equity and Inclusion Leadership Program and funded through the EARN MD grant, Work2Live WELL is a partnership between the state and private businesses, nonprofits, and community colleges. As the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ first workforce development “skills accelerator” program, Work2Live WELL works with under and unemployed adults of Maryland who are interested in developing a foundation for a successful career in natural resources. Work2Live WELL is a fast-track entry into the important realm of green collar jobs that combine technical skills development and training to ensure progression into robust environmental career pathways.

The goal of the program is to make job opportunities more readily accessible through hands-on, field based training, so that environmental related careers are within reach for people who may not have been exposed, due to lack of education, experience or resources.

Work2Live WELL includes training related to Water, Environment, Land, and Life skills; in an effort to not only nurture environmental professionals, but also strong and thriving individuals. Training is lead by industry professionals from Department of Natural Resources, as well as private partners, and consists of classroom instruction and hands on field lessons. Trainees are supported by wrap around services and industry mentors who help guide them personally and professionally from trainee to employee.

The first year of training took place in Baltimore City and the city of Cambridge, MD, enrolling 23 students in the tracks of Land & Environment, and Water Resources. After eight weeks of full-time training, 18 trainees graduated from the inaugural cohort. Shortly after graduation, 12 trainees were employed within the natural resources sector and were receiving an average wage of $14.50 per hour. Some of the trainee highlights include working with the oyster aquaculture lab, wooden boat building, and seafood restaurant skills, as well as stormwater management design, heavy machinery, and tree climbing.

Spring 2019 saw two training tracks take place in Baltimore City, with smaller class sizes for more focused instruction. Eight trainees enrolled in the Land & Environment track and five joined the new Land & Marine Construction track. Similarly to the inaugural class, the Land & Environment trainees learned skills around restoration, stormwater management, land management and forestry/tree care.The new construction trainees worked side by side with the Department’s Engineering & Construction unit. Continuing on the same training timeline, in early May 2019, six trainees received their diploma of completion, while four others had left the program early to begin work in their chosen environmental field. While the class size significantly decreases when a trainee leaves to begin work, they are still celebrated with a ringing of the “job bell”.

It is the hope of Work2Live WELL that trainees will feel empowered and confident to begin their new careers and do not feel burdened with completing the training program. Through their eight weeks of instruction, trainees earned certifications in CPR/1st Aid, OSHA, ArcGIS, Chainsaw safety, Sediment and Erosion Control, and the State Highway Administration’s Yellow Card safety certification. This experience, in addition to industry recognized credentials, helps to put trainees a step above the other applicants and gives them a competitive edge in beginning a new green collar career.

Looking forward to 2020, the program will be applying for additional EARN MD funds from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and hopes to expand to other communities in Maryland. We hope to target regions of economic and employment needs and bring continued access to environmental career pathways across the state.

Want to learn more about work2Live WELL? Contact Work2Live WELL Manager, Trystan Sill with your questions.
Trystan Sill