Establishing an Ecological Workforce Developing Training and Qualifications Certificate for on-the-ground laborers and operators

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Mark Cederborg, Sally Bolger, Bruce Wilson

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A coalition of restoration industry leaders, employers, community colleges, training providers, and workforce development partners are establishing an Ecological Workforce Training Program and industry-recognized Certificate. The Program, which will be piloted in June 2021, is a combination of specially developed curriculum supplemented by worksite training. The Program delivers specially designed curriculum to the on-the-ground restoration laborers and equipment operators, giving them the skills and knowledge to work appropriately in ecologically sensitive habitats, including an understanding of the permitting requirements and restrictions, habitat types, and species of concern. It is on the ground where the labor force interfaces with the resources, yet there currently is no specialized, publicly available training for those workers. The extent to which workers are trained in this specialty is primarily based on on-the-job training, which varies dramatically between employers. Lack of industry standards can lead to damage to resources and unsatisfactory project outcomes. Creation of a respected training program will foster recognition of Environmental Restoration activities as an economic driver and identify an Ecological Workforce separate from and with more specialized skills than, traditional civil construction laborers. This initiative is a powerful means of addressing the long standing barriers to employment in restoration work faced by many in our underserved communities. The Program will expeditiously retrain laborers of all levels into highly paid and fulfilling jobs with excellent wages and benefits, while supporting more successful restoration project outcomes.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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