A group of alumni from Santa Monica College’s groundbreaking
federally funded program "Jobs Through Recycling" program will be
recognized at a private ceremony this Monday at Long Beach City College.
Laurie Johnson is one graduate of the program who was recently hired
for a vice president position at Recyclebank, which has been recognized
for its innovation and for being a “clean-tech” company.
She is just one of the alumni who will be recognized.
“The program was outstanding,” Johnson said. “Not only was the
curriculum relevant and the instruction professional, but the capstone
project and efforts in connecting the course work to real world
experiences and opportunities was invaluable and ultimately played an
important role in qualifying me for my new position.”
Officials with the program – which ended in June 2013 – also want to
use the Dec. 9 event to reconnect with some graduates of the program to
get an update on their status.
SMC, in collaboration with the California Works Alliance, launched
the “Jobs Through Recycling” program in January 2011 after receiving a
$4.87 million Community-Based Job Training Grant from the U.S.
Department of Labor as part of the federal stimulus package.
The grant program has trained approximately 600 individuals in the
areas of recycling, sustainability, waste reduction, reuse, composting,
resource management and zero waste. Training was provided by SMC as
well as its grant partners – the California Resource Recovery
Association, Golden West College and Irvine Valley College.
Other grant partners included Jewish Vocational Services, PACE
Workforce Development Department and the Orange County One Stops, all of
which provided job training and placement services associated with the
Recycling Organizations of North America was also involved with the
grant and assisted in seeking national input into the development of a
standardized training program, which was adopted in June 2013.
To date, an estimated 260 people have gained employment since completing the training.
Many of these people have started jobs in directly related
environmental jobs such as recycling coordinators, environmental
consultants, auditors and zero waste events coordinators.
Others have opted to take non-industry related jobs and directly
apply the training they received to help businesses reduce waste to
landfills and reduce the associated disposal costs.
Officials have noted that the recycling industry is as large as the
automobile industry in America, and that 25 percent of all green jobs in
California are in recycling. In addition, research has shown that for
every 10,000 tons of solid waste going to landfills, one job is created.
That same amount of waste – if diverted from landfills – can create
four composting jobs, 10 recycling jobs, and 75 reuse-materials jobs.
College officials say the program is important to SMC, not only
because of the employment opportunities it creates but also because it
underlines the college’s deep commitment to sustainability.
The grant-funded certificate program led to the creation of a
Recycling & Resource Management certificate and Associate of Arts
degree at SMC.
“The grant has allowed us to create a curriculum that will benefit
the community for a long time,” said Michelle King, SMC director of
career and contract education.
“We’re proud that the program has produced such outstanding graduates
as Laurie Johnson,” she said. “At the same time, we hope that the event
on Dec. 9 will allow us to get an update on the career status of some
students we’ve lost track of.”
Johnson is area vice president of client services at Recyclebank,
which is headquartered in New York and has been recognized by Fast
Company as one of the world’s 50 most innovative companies and named the
No. 1 “Venture-backed Clean-tech Company” by the Wall Street Journal.
Graduates of the program have been getting excellent reviews from employers.
Cynthia Vant Hul, of Mariposa Eco Consulting in Upland and a member
of the program’s Industry Advisory Board, said she hired five graduates
from the “Jobs Through Recycling” program.
“These students are using the tools they learned in the program every
day and creating solutions to increase awareness and reduce waste for
the 2nd largest school district in the nation, Los Angeles Unified
School District,” Vant Hul said. “Hiring the certification students has
given my company the credibility it needs to earn future business and
increased long-term projects.”
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