Written by Mary Ann Lopez
The first program of its kind in the country to help educate veterans and train them for careers in a growing field — green building — will soon be offered in DuPage County through a special partnership.
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The Veterans Building Operator Certification pilot program will allow veterans to receive training and certification that will teach them how to optimize buildings’ energy efficiency to save energy and money.
The education program, which will begin in January 2013, will be free to veterans who participate. The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA), in partnership with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Department of Veterans have partnered to oversee the program.
The program targets veterans with skills and experience that make the transition to commercial building, according to the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance. In addition, the program seeks to address the high unemployment rate among returning veterans, which was about 11 percent in 2011.
“MEEA’s pilot program, which is the first of its kind in the nation, benefits both veterans and their prospective employers,” said Jay Wrobel, executive director of MEEA in a news release. “Program participants receive training and certification that help them compete in the job market and save Illinois businesses energy and money.”
The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance and its partners in DuPage County are seeking recruits among unemployed or underemployed Illinois veterans to participate in the program, which begins in January at the College of DuPage, according to the alliance.
The program will be rigorous and include eight days of technical training on energy-efficient building operations and maintenance, a mentoring program, and employment workshops led by the DuPage County Workforce Development Division (WDD) at the workNet DuPage Career Center focusing on topics such as resume building, interviewing skills, and job searching, according to the alliance. The entire program is funded by DuPage County WDD and provided free to qualified veterans. The Building Operator Certificate tuition alone would normally cost $1,250.
After graduation, the Building Operator certified veterans will be ready to apply what they learned in training to undertake measures such as energy efficient equipment upgrades and indoor air quality improvements, according to the alliance.
“DuPage County appreciates the work and sacrifices made by our veterans in their service to our country,” Jeff Redick, DuPage County environmental committee chairman said in a news release. “We recognize the difficulties these service men and woman have encountered in returning to the civilian workforce and the BOC training is just one way we can help them on their road to employment. This program provides valuable training in the highly competitive and growing energy efficiency green jobs market. We’re proud to work with MEEA to provide this valuable service for our veterans and the green energy marketplace.”