The Sustainable Business Council Blog

Job Corps expands into green jobs
April 2, 2010, 3:05 AM
Filed under: Uncategorized

One of the enduring and successful programs of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society is Job Corps.

Since Sargent Shriver established the program based on the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps in 1964, it has provided more than two million young men and women with the skills they needed to join the work force. Most of these kids came from poor families or had dropped out of high school and needed a new start.

They live at the Job Corps centers, get their GEDs and are training for careers ranging from auto repair to forest conservation to nursing and plumbing. With 123 centers nationwide, the program has been a quiet but resounding success, changing the lives of often troubled youth ready to take a new path.

Earlier this month Harris Sherman, Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment came to Nampa’s Job Corps Center to announce a new direction for its Job Corps centers it calls Forest Service Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers or CCCs, to tie it back to the popular New Deal program. USDA operates 28 CCCs across 18 states and serves 6,200 young workers.

Centers like Nampa’s will begin training its youth for jobs in the emerging green economy. Since the Obama administration believes that the center of job growth in the coming years will come from green technology they hope to give these workers a hand up.

The workers will learn the principles of green construction and how to build and retrofit buildings to achieve green building-certification. They will learn how to install smart meters, low voltage thermostats and energy efficient appliances.

Culinary students will learn how to incorporate organic and locally-grown produce into menus, decreasing the miles food has to travel and lowering carbon output. And it is the USDA after all and they plan to make good nutrition a part of the curriculum.

Conservation students will learn forest restoration, preparing a new generation to go back into the woods to thin, log, burn and tear out roads that are degrading water quality.

I talked to Sherman after he toured the Centennial Job Corps Center earlier this month. He said this new program will prepare students to contribute to the green economy by building energy-efficient homes, renewable energy plants, and enhancing our natural resources.

“We’re really excited about the potential of this to revitalize local economies in rural communities across America,” Sherman said.

When I wrote last year about the state’s small Youth Conservation Corps program I heard from several Republican lawmakers about how much they liked the program that gave young people jobs and helped communities take care of their parks and maintain trails. These are some of the few government programs that have wide bipartisan support because they are viewed instead of government spending as government investing in the future.
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Submitted by Rocky Barker on Thu, 03/18/2010 – 9:40am.


Why Employees Should Be Part Of Any Green Solution
April 2, 2010, 3:00 AM
Filed under: Uncategorized

A report published by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) last week highlights the business benefits of environmental and sustainability education for employees. According to the study, these business benefits include improving operational efficiency, strengthening customer and community relations, innovation, supply chain management, and attracting and retraining employees.

I would agree with the assessment of these business benefits, and emphasize that the value of sustainability education and engagement of employees is as a means to an end, not as an end in itself. Engagement in environmental programs increases awareness of and sensitivity to key sustainability issues.

Often, employees take that heightened sensitivity back into the workplace and apply it in their day jobs, as well as at home and in their communities. For example, the McDonald’s project cited in the study shows how restaurants and their employees worked with customers to reduce 3 million pounds of CO2; BT and Hewlett-Packard have created programs to support employees who want to install solar installation in their homes.

While the report highlights several very tangible business benefits of employee engagement in sustainability initiatives it neglects one key intangible benefit: trust. Authenticity is the key here. I maintain that trust is driven by authenticity and distrust by lack of authenticity.

We judge whether a person is authentic by the consistency with which they apply their values. The public judges companies in the same way. If we declare a corporate responsibility value through our environmental investments we are expected to apply that value consistently. Therefore it is important that environmental values are applied consistently throughout the company and incorporated into the work of all employees — not just Corporate Social Responsibility professionals.

By Kevin Moss
Published March 04, 2010