On Friday, July 6, 2012 11 unemployed or under-employed Miami-area residents graduated from the sixth and final phase of the USF OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Center’s partnership with the City of Miami’s Brownfield Job Training Program.
The program provided environmental-, industrial- and commercial industry-related training and certification free of charge to enrolled Miami-area residents in an effort to provide them an opportunity to obtain skills, increase employability, and enter the green job workforce. The creation of the program was made possible by a federal Brownfield Job Training grant awarded to the City of Miami by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Over a period of seven weeks, the USF OTI Education Center provided participants with training in Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER), permit required confined space entry, first aid/CPR, longshoring, shipyard safety, as well as backhoe and forklift operation.
One of the youngest students selected for the City of Miami’s final round of training was Benard Straughter, a 19-year-old from Miami Gardens, Fla. Straughter balanced working overtime as a package handler and his job training program courses, sometimes only sleeping two hours each night. “I’m too young to be having back pain. I saw (this training) as a path to new opportunities,” he said.
“Throughout the program, I kept thinking about how my girl is in the army,” Straughter said of his girlfriend Kenisha, who departed for her base the day before his graduation. “If she can do that, I can push myself to do this.”
His hard work paid off. “I have a job lined up for Monday, and now all I have to do now is bring in my credentials!”
The USF OTI Education Center trained seasoned construction professionals and newcomers alike, including Jovarek Atwell, 30, of Miami. He is currently earning an associate degree in Business Administration and works part-time at Camillus House, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing humanitarian services to the homeless populations of Miami-Dade County.
“My favorite part of the program was learning how to drive the backhoe. I had never been on any sort of heavy machinery, and being in control of that was a great experience,” Atwell said.
Joseph Goulbourne said he has been involved with construction work since 1991. “Even I didn’t know of these terms and concepts shared,” he said. “I hope this is not truly the last class. This information can help so many people.”
In 2011, the City of Miami contracted the USF OTI Education Center to conduct training for its Brownfield Job Training Program over a period of six phases beginning May 2011. Each phase of the USF OTI Education Center’s partnership with the City of Miami’s Brownfield Job Training Program lasted roughly six to eight weeks and offered at least six courses.
In total, the USF OTI Education Center trained at least 88 Miami residents by conducting 45 courses throughout the EPA-funded contract.
To see photos and a story about an earlier phase of the partnership, visit http://www.cme.hsc.usf.edu/coph/oti/OTI_MiamiIV.html
For more information about the USF OTI Education Center and to register for courses, visit www.usfoticenter.org
To learn more about the EPA Brownfield Job Training Program and the benefits of hiring a program graduate, visit http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/job.htm
Story and photos by Amanda Moore