(Read the general news release below; or click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page for additional details as reported in the Berkshire Eagle, and then click here and scroll down for the continuation of the Eagle article. For more information, contact Bill Mulholland, dean of Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development, at 413-236-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Berkshire Community College is one of only three community colleges in the Commonwealth to receive a $200,000 grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs' Pathways Out of Poverty program. Established with funding through the Green Jobs Act, the Pathways Out of Poverty initiative is intended to support pathways towards economic self-sufficiency in the clean energy industry targeting low- and moderate-income individuals.
BCC will collaborate with regional partners including the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board, Berkshire Works, the Center for Ecological Technology, area vocational schools, the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, the Berkshire Economic Development Corporation, the Berkshire Central Labor Council, and the region's clean energy industries to develop career pathways and training programs that will support the emergent renewable energy sector in Berkshire County.
Grant funding from the Pathways Out of Poverty program will extend through June of 2010 and will enable as many as 60 low-income, unemployed, or dislocated workers to access free training at BCC leading to a Certificate in Energy Conservation. Berkshire Works will help to identify and assess potential project participants and assist with job placement services. BCC's program will provide participants with the basic skills education and hands-on training opportunities essential for "green collar" jobs. Project activities are designed to improve participants' competency levels and skills in renewable energy technologies, mathematics, reading, writing, communications, manufacturing, and construction applications, and will also include practicum experiences as well as job placement services.
BCC anticipates that the project will result in the creation of a Berkshire County Green Jobs Corps of qualified individuals who are prepared for placement in sustainable and long-term employment. As a result of this program, the skills of the County's workforce will be enhanced; the ability of workers to effectively apply renewable skills to workplace applications will be improved; and program participants will be provided with the competence necessary for entry-level employment opportunities.
Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield), a key supporter who was instrumental in the passage of the Green Jobs Act, recognizes that "green jobs are the future of our economy and the future is now in Berkshire County." "I want to thank the Secretary [Ian Bowles] for recognizing this partnership, led by BCC," said Senator Downing. "Giving our workers the skills needed to succeed in the clean energy economy is good economic, environmental and energy policy."
Paul Raverta, President of Berkshire Community College, noted that "given the impending influx of federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dedicated to renewable energy initiatives, this grant award comes at an opportune time." BCC looks forward to working with its project partners in an effort to grow the green economy in Berkshire County and providing career pathways in this emerging field to the regions' increasing numbers of unemployed and dislocated workers.