Program Helps Job Seekers Go Green

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - All of the young adults gathered inside the room within the metro's Historic Jazz District have one thing in common - they all need a steady, good paying job.

"The youth within this community have the highest unemployment rate.  Their unemployment rate is 23.6-percent," said Andrea Robins, the senior director of operations for the Full Employment Council.

That's why the University of Central Missouri's National Energy Retrofit Institute and the Full Employment Council teamed up to create the Green Retrofit Employment and Training or GREAT Program.  During the program, 400 participants gain education on energy retrofitting older homes and buildings to make them run more efficiently, both energy and cost wise.

"We want to help folks, especially those that aren't served well in the traditional academic systems gain job skills that they can use to attain, retain and be promotable in their future careers," said Scott Boyce with the National Energy Retrofit Institute at UCM. "We believe that energy efficiency and the green sector is something that's not going to be a fad."

That's why UCM and the Full Employment Council say they chose energy retrofitting. Both entities see green jobs as sustainable way to get the unemployed back to work.

"This provides them the opportunity to obtain a certificate from UCM and to gain work experience which allows them to add that to their resume," said Robins.  "They can use their instructors and the super visors references. We also work with them on resume development, interviewing and connecting them to possible interviewing opportunities."

Once the students complete their training, they will head out into the community to find customers who want to retrofit their homes.

While the upfront costs can be steep, UCM said the long term energy savings and environmental benefits make retrofitting worth it.

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