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Riverside, CA (November 15, 2013) The Riverside County Workforce Development Centers’ project Green Pathways = Green Paydays receives “Merit Award” from the California State Association of Counties’ (CSAC) Annual Challenge Awards program.  CSAC created the annual Challenge Awards program in the mid-1990s to recognize the innovative and creative spirit of California county governments as they find inventive, effective and cost-saving ways to provide programs and services to their citizens. 

The economic growth in Riverside County declined sharply from 2009-2010 and job losses were the largest on record.  The contraction was due primarily to a decline in new home construction which hit Riverside County’s economy particularly hard.  All of the supportive industry clusters to residential home construction also suffered double digit declines placing many job seekers into the lines of the long-term unemployed.

“By collaborating with the renewable energy industry, College of the Desert and valued non-profits we were able to provide training programs through project “Green Pathways = Green Paydays” that have proven successful in getting people back to work. With an industry recognized certificate in hand coupled with the hands-on experience our trainees received working with non-profits such as GRID Alternatives they were first to be hired in jobs that pay a sustainable living wage between $14.00 and $48.00 per hour,” said Juan De Lara, Chair for the Riverside County Workforce Investment Board’s Eastern Regional Committee.

Based on industry input, potential trainees were pre-assessed in math, reading comprehension and mechanical reasoning to analyze their potential success in the class.  The training included material needed to pass the North American Board of Certified Electrical Practitioners (NABCEP), the gold standard for solar businesses. 

Layne Arthur, Vice-Chair for the Riverside County Workforce Investment Board’s Eastern Regional Committee and Vice President with Balfour Beatty Construction knows first-hand the importance of obtaining industry recognized certifications.  “Our public and private clients continually become more and more sophisticated in what they expect from us.  Typical solicitations require our project team members to be well-versed and leaders in energy efficiency, such as USGBC LEED accreditation.  When screening candidate applications for open positions, our initial filters are their level of education/experience and what certifications they maintain.”

“We are honored by this award and want to thank the California State Association of Counties for recognizing collaboration and training as innovative solutions to get people back to work and in jobs that provide a living wage and potential growth opportunities such as those in the renewable energy industry,” said Felicia Flournoy, Director for the Riverside County Economic Development Agency’s Workforce Division.

An independent panel of judges closely affiliated with California counties, their programs and the services they deliver evaluated 220 Challenge Award entries.   This year, CSAC honored 18 counties with Challenge and Merit Awards.

For more information, please call Wendy Frederick, Workforce Development’s Eastern Regional Manager at 760.863.2525.

Posted in: WDB

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