The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) has been implementing workforce development programs for the last fifteen years. The first 10 years was under the auspices of Xavier University. In 2005, the center began operating under the auspices of Dillard University.
The program administration, under the leadership of Dr. Beverly Wright, approaches workforce development training in a holistic manner, addressing the academic, social, psychological and physical needs of the trainees. The training program's structure includes outreach and recruitment, basic and job readiness skills development, career training, job placement and tracking. The DSCEJ has managed to maintain a 75% to 90% job placement rate over the years. Several initiatives were developed to achieve this success rate including development of a Worker Training Advisory Board and fostering relationships with environmental remediation employers. An advisory board consisting of environmental community leaders and employers are active in outreach and recruitment, mentoring and job placement. Relationships are developed with potential employers to ensure placement of program graduates. Collaborations with community partnerships, resource agencies (Job1, Job Corp, Lion's Eye Center, etc.), local churches, and local government offices were also developed to support various components of the program's structure. Past training populations have included trainees who were unemployed and underemployed, and those lacking basic academic and soft skills. The center has experience in training the economically disadvantaged as well as those who have been incarcerated.
Brownfields/Minority Worker Training Project
The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University (formerly at Xavier University of Louisiana) in collaboration with Clark Atlanta University's Environmental Justice Resource Center has been conducting Brownfields/Minority Worker Training funded by The National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences for the last fifteen years. Training has been delivered in the following cities:
Hurricane Katrina Training Initiatives
Hurricane Katrina has been described as the worst natural disaster ever reported in North America. The Katrina Response Consortium consisting of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University (DU/DSCEJ) in New Orleans, LA in partnership with Texas Southern University's Department of Sociology in Houston, TX, the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufactory, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW), minority-owned and institutional-based training providers, and local, state, and federal agencies, to implement a Minority Worker Training Program in response to the environmental devastation of Hurricane Katrina. This project represents a unique initiative that links Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), community-based organizations (CBOs) and small and disadvantaged businesses, unions with apprenticeship programs, and government agencies, with the overall goal of rebuilding the Gulf Coast, promoting community involvement, and creating a work force of trained community residents from the impacted areas ready to assist government, businesses, and contractors in the environmental remediation of the Gulf Coast states.
Department of Labor
Initially the Department of Labor Worker Training Program was funded to train the un- and underemployed population returning home Post-Katrina. Due to an acute shortage of affordable rental property in the city and the closing and planned demolition of public housing complexes this population was not currently present in the city. This result was that many of New Orleans' poorest and most needy citizens cannot afford to return home. The recruitment efforts resulted in identifying contractors, work-ready or work-experienced individuals, and college graduates or individuals with college training who are interested in becoming contractors. Therefore, the format of the original worker training was modified to include technical training only in Hazmat, Asbestos and Mold Remediation.
The modification of the program?s scope of work entailed the elimination of the basic skills training. This component of training is designed to address academic and life skills deficits that prevent trainees from being work-ready. With the population that had been recruited early on in the process, it became evident that this component of training would not be needed. The modification in the scope of work also involved providing technical training in hazardous waste work (40 hours) and mold remediation (24 hours), the two most important courses and certifications needed to get people employed in the cleanup and rebuilding effort. To this was added a 4 hour course entitled ?Health and Safety for Devastated Communities?. This course, developed and presented by the United Steel Workers, is a special course designed to address the specific needs of post Katrina New Orleans, and to prepare residents for future devastating events.
Xavier Triangle Community Worker Training & Construction Company
The Xavier Triangle Project trained community residents in basic construction skills and hazardous materials abatement. The trainees received academic and life skills training to prepare them to successfully complete technical training, resulting in employment. Moreover, Xavier University, through its involvement in the project, improved its ability to service the academic and job training needs of inner city youth. This project represented a unique opportunity to link Xavier with the community and labor organizations in ways that improved the quality of life of residents of the Xavier Triangle Community and empowered community members through employment. Two cycles of this project were funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
This initiative attempts to implement a Worker Health and Safety Training program designed to address the needs of displaced workers, residents and small and disadvantaged business owners. This project will address the environmental training needs in the aftermath of Katrina of individuals who reside in impacted areas and/or were displaced by the hurricane and live in the Gulf States of Louisiana and Texas. In addition, funding has been provided by the Department of Labor to train New Orleans residents in technical areas that will support the rebuilding efforts in the city. That program is slated for completion in the summer of 2007.
Canal Lock Job Training Project
The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University (formerly at Xavier University of Louisiana) in collaboration with the Laborers-AGC structured a job training program that focused on preparing unemployed and under-employed persons residing in the targeted area to work on construction contracts related to the demolition of the Galvez Street Wharf, and levee/floodwall work on the west bank of the Industrial Canal Lock Replacement Project in the 9th ward of New Orleans, LA. This program was funded for two cycles by the Corps of Engineers.
In the past, the Laborers-AGC, Carpenters and various other for-profit vendors have provided technical training within DSCEJ?s training programs. The DSCEJ has recently developed its own capacity to deliver technical training.
The training institute delivers:
A mixture of classroom instruction, hands-on techniques and technology are used to deliver health and safety training.In addition, the center has the added capabilty of being able to train at several sites using distance learning.
The DSCEJ has been instrumental in training over 800 individuals in the southern region of the United States in various fields of environmental remediation. They have delivered over 20,000 hours in environmental remediation training and over 20,000 hours in Basic Skills Training.