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Environmental Factor, September 2012

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WETP training program means jobs for veterans

By Eddy Ball

Audrey Gotsch, Dr.P.H.

Gotsch is also the director of an NIEHS-funded Minority Workers Training Program and Brownfields Minority Workers Training Program. (Photo courtesy of Audrey Gotsch)

Chip Hughes, Sharon Beard, and Liam O’Fallon

Beard, standing, is shown in a photo earlier this year of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Good Neighbor Award winners. Seated are WETP Director Chip Hughes, right, and NIEHS Program Analyst Liam O’Fallon. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey

A new NIEHS-funded program in New Jersey is building on a proven model of hazardous materials training to help veterans reenter the civilian workforce and assist graduates with their job search upon completion of the five-week training program.

In an Aug. 9 press release, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) announced the launch of the NJ Jobs4Vets training program by the New Jersey/New York Hazardous Materials Worker Training Center at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health (SPH). Recruitment for the first training session, which begins in November, is now underway. The program expects to enroll 25 military and National Guard veterans in courses provided by UMDNJ and the New York City District Council of Carpenters.

“There is a need for veterans to be trained in an area that has potential jobs that are critical for the state,” center director Audrey Gotsch, Dr.P.H., said in the program announcement. Gotsch is a professor of health education and behavioral science and founding dean of UMDNJ-SPH, a position she held from 1999 to 2010.

“It is unacceptable that so many of our veterans struggle to find jobs when they return home from service,” observed Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., an Army veteran who has worked to expand veteran employment programs nationwide and was quoted in the press release.

Matching veterans with critical jobs

UMDNJ courses will include an introduction to the program, as well as training in hazardous waste site, asbestos worker, lead abatement, construction safety, and disaster site protocols. The New York City District Council of Carpenters will provide the 40-hour construction skills course at its New York City site, teaching hands-on skills in carpentry and other trades.

Participants will be prepared to apply for asbestos and lead abatement licenses through the state of New Jersey at the conclusion of the five-week training program.

Gotsch said of program participants, “Military service has instilled these veterans with skills, discipline and a work ethic that make them especially strong candidates for these important jobs. We encourage businesses to contact those who have completed the program to recruit them for employment.”

Men and women who have served in the U.S. military, the National Guard, or Military Reserve and are interested in this training program can call 866-VETS-NJ4 (866-838-7654) toll-free for more information. Twenty-five stipends will be provided to veterans who qualify for this program, covering all costs for the five-week training program, as well as the application fees to apply for N.J. state licenses in asbestos and lead abatement.

The program is funded by an NIEHS grant administered by NIEHS Worker Education and Training Program manager Sharon Beard. Beard is program manager for the highly successful WETP Minority Worker Training Program (MWTP), which has trained more than 10,000 workers with a placement rate of more than 70 percent. The new program incorporates elements from MWTP and a range of other high-impact WETP programs. This NJ Jobs4Vets program mirrors the MWTP by preparing individuals with much needed environmental remediation instruction, as well as specific health and safety job training to make them more marketable to employers.

In addition to UMDNJ, New Jersey/New York Hazardous Materials Worker Training Center program participants include the Hunter College School of Health Sciences, New Jersey State Police, New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, New York City District Council of Carpenters, Universidad Metropolitana, and University at Buffalo.

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