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King County Executive News

King County Executive News
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Dec. 2, 2010

King County Jobs Initiative wins 2010 Workforce and Economic Development Best Practice Award

Governor Gregoire awarded County’s innovative environmental jobs creation; at-risk youth outreach

Two innovative and successful King County work training programs were singled out for recognition today by Governor Christine Gregoire. The King County Jobs Initiative (KCJI) was selected to receive a 2010 Workforce and Economic Development Best Practice Award, and the SODO Greenlight Program was recognized as a Project to Watch. Both programs are aimed at teaching green technologies to King County residents, and create opportunities for living wage jobs.

"We are grateful to Governor Gregoire for this recognition of our efforts to advance green technologies and improve the quality of life in our communities," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "The King County Jobs Initiative creates living wage jobs at a time when unemployment in our region remains high, and simultaneously provides extraordinary opportunities for those previously involved in our criminal justice system to turn their lives around and build a better future for themselves and their families."

KCJI's "Brownfields" training program was singled out for best practice recognition. This program prepares individuals to safely clear parcels of land damaged by hazardous substances or contaminants. The KCJI green job training is funded by a grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and participants receive certification in environmental cleanup that prepares them for employment opportunities in that field. More than 200 individuals have been trained since the program began, with an average starting wage of over $20 per hour.

Since it was created in 1998, the KCJI has focused on helping very low-income individuals gain education and employment opportunities. More recently, the program has focused on working to improve the employability of persons with prior criminal records, a population that has traditionally been hard to place in jobs.

In addition to the KCJI, the SODO Greenlight program was recognized by the Governor as a "Project to Watch." The program recruits, trains, and helps to place at-risk and disadvantaged youth ages 18-24 in manufacturing jobs, while also introducing the participants to emerging green trends through apprenticeship opportunities. The majority of project participants are high school dropout youth. Students are paid by participating employers for their training and treated as employees, building their job skills and employability. Successful students go on to internships with local manufacturers. Partners include the Manufacturing Industrial Council, South Seattle Community College Apprenticeship and Education Center, Puget Sound Industrial Excellence Center, and the Seattle-King County Workforce Development Council.

The Best Practices Awards are organized by the Department of Commerce and the Washington State Workforce, Training and Education Coordinating Board, a partnership of business, labor and government dedicated to helping Washington State residents obtain and succeed in family wage jobs.

Both projects are coordinated through the King County Work Training Program.

For more information about the King County Jobs Initiative, visit www.kingcounty.gov/worktraining.