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Engineering

UNL partners in gaining grant of nearly $5 million for Nebraska’s green jobs training

UNL College of Engineering faculty helped write a grant proposal funded by the US Department of Labor through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) for more than $4.8 million to provide green jobs training in Nebraska.

Jonathan Shi, professor and department chair with Construction Management, worked with associate professor Kevin Grosskopf, a colleague in UNL's Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction, to establish UNL coordination of the project’s training materials development and the training of instructors. Shi said UNL expertise factors in the Nebraska State Energy Sector Partnership’s (SESP) three energy sector focus areas cited in the proposal: renewable wind, biofuels energy and energy-efficient “green building” technology.

According to the proposal, UNL faculty and staff will “train the trainers,” including counselors and specialists at 17 career centers targeting Nebraska’s western, northeast and metro areas.

The proposal’s job training is ultimately intended for incumbent workers being impacted by national energy and environmental policies and in need of updated training, as well as unemployed individuals with emphasis on dislocated workers, at-risk youth, veterans, and individuals with criminal records.

Following classroom and Internet-based instruction and project simulations, trainees will be placed into structured apprenticeship programs with partner industries to develop on-the-job training skills and ensure job placement.

The key objective of this program with the State of Nebraska's Department of Labor is to incorporate, not duplicate, the broad array of existing training and apprenticeship programs available in the state. Shi said UNL will review existing curricula and create new curricula where there are gaps. The result will be designed to meet new green industry standards and provide bilingual (English-Spanish) and literacy appropriate formats.

The Lincoln Journal Star reported that the funds were part of $190 million awarded nationwide for green jobs training, and the program “aims to recruit 950 Nebraskans, enter more than 860 into training and have more than 730 complete training and earn certification.”

The state’s energy office has noted that Nebraska had the second highest growth in green collar jobs in the U.S. during the past 10 years, growing an average of 10 percent per year. Shi said, “We want to help our state leverage this opportunity.”