Opening Pipelines of Opportunity on the West Side
To connect West Side residents with new opportunities for work on the West Side, PUSH developed a job-training pipeline in alliance with local providers of skills training.
For example, PUSH’s earliest projects involved partnerships with YouthBuild. Some of those early teenage trainees went on to more recent projects in the GDZ.
As PUSH’s local contractor networks grew, so did its partnerships with other organizations that provide job training, including: the Outsource Center, Erie County Community College, the New York Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), and Environmental Education Associates.
Through the Outsource Center, a Buffalo construction training program, PUSH trains low-income residents in three, 10-week training programs per year. A total of about 20 residents receive this training each year, training that follows a strict curriculum based on standards set by the Building Performance Institute. Successful trainees get jobs on PUSH’s construction projects in the GDZ or enter union apprenticeship programs, both routes that can lead to solid green jobs careers.
At any one time, one PUSH-owned house in the GDZ serves as a training house. The NetZero House was one of these; the project allowed trainees to become acquainted with many innovative green construction techniques – techniques that included the installation of the house’s geothermal heating system, its two solar energy systems and its advanced building envelope.
Also critical to the GDZ’s job training networks was PUSH’s foundation of a local chapter of LiUNA, the Laborers International Union. LiUNA not only brings its own substantial training resources and connections with employment networks to the table, it also offers strong support for PUSH’s efforts to hold contractors to high road employment standards once trainees get jobs.