TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT
NOTICE

NO.

4-03

DATE:

August 21, 2003

 

TO

:

ALL STATE WORKFORCE AGENCIES
ALL STATE WORKFORCE LIAISONS

 

FROM

:

GRACE A. KILBANE s/s
ADMINISTRATOR
Office of Workforce Investment

 

SUBJECT

:

Announcement of Opportunities to Collaborate with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Brownfields Economic Redevelopment

  1. PURPOSE. To announce the potential for collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Brownfields Economic Redevelopment and workforce training.

  2. BACKGROUND. Hailed as legislation to clean the environment and create jobs, the Presidentís Fiscal Year 2003 budget contains $200 million for Brownfields Economic Redevelopment to help states and communities around the country cleanup and revitalize Brownfields sites. EPA defines a Brownfields site as one that is underutilized due to a real or perceived presence of hazardous materials. All workers who enter these sites for assessment or clean-up activities must possess certain specialized and somewhat unique skills and certifications. There are presently over 430 Brownfields Assessment Pilots (communities that have received the equivalent of planning grants) recognized by EPA. New Assessment and Clean-up sites are added to the EPA list for funding at the rate of 50-60 per year.

    Agencies affiliated with these pilot sites also have the opportunity to compete for EPA Brownfields Worker Training Grants. These grants typically last two years and provide up to $200,000 for workforce training and related activities. EPA awards new grants yearly through a highly competitive grant application process. Workforce Investment Boards located near Brownfields sites are encouraged to apply for these funds. At present, approximately 30 sites are receiving these funds from EPA. Of the ten new grants awarded in May, five of the grants were submitted by Workforce Investment Boards or One-Stop Career Centers and three others cited the Local Workforce Investment Board as a partner. EPA plans to announce the next round of competition for Brownfields Worker Training Grants in September for Fiscal Year 2004 funding.

    Training and employment needs at Brownfields sites hold tremendous opportunities for Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIB), local training providers, and the citizens served by the US Department of Labor through the Workforce Investment Act. Through coordination with the local agency in charge of these Brownfields sites (the particular agency varies greatly from site to site), Local Workforce Investment Boards and One-Stop Career Centers can help to assure that local workers are qualified for these jobs when the project begins. Companies involved in the assessment and cleanup of these sites are frequently from other areas. Therefore, they have a need for workers who possess the appropriate skills and certifications that is time sensitive. If these workers are not available locally, then these jobs are given to persons from outside the community. When this happens it diminishes the economic benefit to the community that is gained from the Brownfields grant.

    Much of the training needed for workers at these sites can be obtained locally or is available in a blended format via distance education. The training and certifications needed are not substantial and can be offered in courses of reasonably brief duration. Even for sites receiving training monies from EPA, LWIBs and One-Stop Career Centers have an important role to provide the soft skills so often required by these workers as prerequisites for training. Through this type of collaboration, performance measures of the Local Board and those of the local EPA grantee can be mutually enhanced as both groups are working toward the same goals of training and employment of local workers. Jobs for Brownfields cleanup workers typically have a good starting wage, $12-18 per hour, and have the potential for upward mobility through additional training and certification(s).

    Another benefit to this type of collaboration or partnership is that the Local Workforce Investment Board or One-Stop Career Center is involved with planning officials at the earliest stages of site planning. This will allow Workforce professionals at the local level to be involved in the planning of job readiness needs for the next use of the site once it has been cleaned-up. This will enhance their ability to provide needed services to the businesses, industries or agencies that will become the next tenants of these properties.

    The Brownfields partnership with EPA and related initiatives have been renewed recently as a part of the commitments made by DOL in the Brownfields Federal Partnership Action Agenda, November 2002. This document and many other valuable topics on Brownfields can be reviewed at the Brownfields Web site: www.epa.gov/epahome/hi-brownfields.htm, or you may go directly to the Action Agenda by clicking on http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/pdf/fedparaa.pdf. The DOL commitments are stated on page 36. However, you may also want to review the other Federal partner commitments for ideas on collaboration and sharing of scarce training resources with other Federal agencies at the local level.

  3. Resources. Plans are underway to link the EPA Brownfields Web site to the ETA Web site in order to make identification of local contacts easier for each agency. In the interim period, to ascertain if there are any EPA recognized Brownfields sites in your service area, you may consult the EPA Brownfields Pilots/Grants and Demonstrations Web site directly at: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/pilot.htm. This link will take you to a list of several EPA Brownfields projects. By clicking on a particular type of project, you will obtain a list of the sites involved in each of the various EPA programs such as the Showcase Communities, Assessment Pilots, Demonstration Pilots, and Worker Training Grants. You can go directly to a map for locating the Assessment Pilots via the following link: www.epa.gov/brownfields/plocat.htm. At the map you may click on your state to obtain a list of Assessment projects in your area, or simply move down the page until you locate your EPA region and state. By clicking on a specific project, you will be taken to another page where you can obtain a fact sheet providing information on the project and also contact information on the agency or organization in charge of the site. The following link takes you to a map for locating sites that have been awarded Brownfields Worker Training funds from EPA. As before, additional information on the specific project and contact information for the organization that received the grant can be obtained from the map after clicking on the state or EPA region: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/jlocat.htm. Due to the fact that EPA Brownfields Worker Training Grants cannot provide monies for the soft skills training that many of these potential workers so desperately need, these Brownfields sites, in particular, offer excellent opportunities to Local Workforce Investment Boards and One-Stop Career Centers for the types of collaboration that can improve performance measures.

    As an additional resource, Randy J. Parker may be able to answer your questions. He may be reached by phone at (202) 693-5922, or by email at parker.randy@dol.gov.

  4. Distribution/Additional Copies. All documents referenced with this Notice are available on-line using the embedded links contained within this correspondence.

  5. Inquiries. Questions should be directed to your Regional Office or to Randy J. Parker.