New Jersey is training an army of weatherization workers as the state surges ahead with plans to weatherize 13,000 homes, shrinking bills for low-income residents and creating hundreds of jobs.
The goal is to develop the “weatherization workforce with family supporting wages” and create “career ladders which will move low-income workers into higher-skilled occupations,” says Lisa Ryan, public information officer for New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs. “This program is designed to train workers for advancement and provide job security.”
The weatherization specialists conduct energy audits, finding ways to cut power bills. The workers make the homes more energy efficient by repairing heating systems, installing insulation, weatherstripping doors and windows, sealing drafty areas and installing low-flow shower heads. They also teach homeowners ways to lower their energy costs.
Money from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act is being used to fund the weatherization training programs for 600 workers. New Jersey has set March 2012 as the target date to complete the home weatherization projects.
Trainees undergo a 10-week program at training centers and vocational schools throughout the state. Topics range from environmental sustainability to construction literacy, business management and life skills. Trainees are assigned case managers to help them successfully complete the program.
The New Jersey Building Laborers Training & Apprenticeship Fund and New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools organize the training. Program graduates are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They are then hired by community action programs and contractors to weatherize homes for low-income residents.
The state estimates the weatherization projects will save families hundreds in first-year energy costs, reducing New Jersey's overall energy demands and resulting in a greener Garden State.
The Weatherization Workforce Initiative was funded by the Recovery Act through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA).