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EPA Brownfields Job Training Grant Will Provide Career Development for High School Dropouts in Middlesex County and Phillipsburg

Release Date: 05/18/2000
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(#00100) NEW YORK, N.Y.-- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected the  New Jersey Youth Corps for a Brownfields Job Training and Development Demonstration Pilot  grant of $200,000. The Youth Corps, a program of the New Jersey Department of Human Services’ Office of Education, will partner with the Brownfields Assessment Demonstration Pilot programs of Middlesex County and the Town of Phillipsburg to train local, unskilled residents between the ages of 18 and 25 as environmental technicians. EPA supports communities across the country through its Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Initiative - a national effort to renew industrial and commercial properties where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination.

The Youth Corps plans to train at least 40 participants as environmental technicians and support career placement of its graduates for one year after the training to achieve at least an 80% placement rate. In 1998, EPA awarded the Youth Corps a similar grant, which focused on Camden and Newark and resulted in 24 students receiving internships, six pursuing continuing education and a few exploring union apprenticeships. The program boasted an 85.4% student retention rate for the intensive technical training.

EPA Regional Administrator Jeanne M. Fox pointed out that, "There are few programs in the state that provide job skills to the young and unskilled who are not in the educational mainstream. This grant program has already provided high school dropouts career training for livable wage jobs doing the environmental assessments and cleanups being conducted in Newark and Camden." Ms. Fox said, "We look forward to seeing the same successes in Middlesex County and in Phillipsburg."

Middlesex County is in central New Jersey and is comprised of 25 municipalities. The Raritan River area was the center of industry and commerce in Middlesex County. Over the past 30 years, the former heavily industrialized region has suffered a significant decline, leaving many industrial facilities abandoned and contaminated. The County’s brownfields assessment pilot is focused on redevelopment of properties within this strategic area.

The Town of Phillipsburg is located in Hunterdon County on the Delaware River in northwestern New Jersey. The decline of manufacturing, including steel, has directly contributed to the town’s unemployment rate, which continues to exceed the state-wide average. In Phillipsburg, eight brownfield redevelopment sites have been identified within the 3.2 square mile extent of the town.

The Youth Corps program provides youth job training and career development programs throughout the state, and is part of the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps. The Youth Corps program provides a comprehensive foundation (job skills/job readiness, internship stipends and job placement services) for environmental training.

As orientation for the Brownfields Job Development program, students will complete 150 hours of community service that will focus on environmental activities. The pilot training program includes courses  on hazardous waste health and safety training for workers, preliminary assessment and remediation investigation, auditing, site characterization, risk communication and cleanup remedy selection. The technical program will have a particular focus on training in the use of innovative assessment and cleanup   technologies. Following completion of the program, students will be placed in career development internships.

The Youth Corps training efforts will be supported by New Jersey organizations including the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), the New Brunswick Council for Youth, Middlesex County Community College, and the Department of Labor One Stop Career Center in Phillipsburg. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and local unions also have offered their assistance with the training program.