January 15, 2010 Volume 111 Number 2

Sheet Metal training center gets piece of $5 million ARRA grant

Sheet Metal Workers HVAC & Metals Institute will get $150,000 over two years to train workers in green jobs industries.

The money is part of a $5 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) jobs stimulus grant awarded to Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP) by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.

Sheet Metal Workers Local 16, Machinists District Lodge 24, and the Northwest Oregon Labor Council were spotlighted as “key partners” in the grant award. Only Sheet Metal Workers is benefiting financially.

“Our goal in all this is to take our existing workforce and make it sustainable,” said Dennis Boyd, training coordinator for the Sheet Metal Training Center. “We want to sustain the workforce as well as the environment.”

Boyd said that if the training center can offer a program “that helps make our people more employable, that’s what we’ll do.”

Local 16 is currently experiencing 25 percent unemployment among its 2,150 members. It has 150 apprentices in training.

Bob Petroff, directing business representative of Machinists District Lodge 24, is hopeful that some of the money will be used to introduce apprenticeship training programs at unionized companies such as Beaverton-based Integrated Power Services, where 11 employees are members of Local Lodge 63.

Over 37 companies have expressed interest in participating in the program, and have projected 775 new jobs over the next two years. Interested companies include SolarWorld, Renewable Energy Composite Systems, Miles Fiberglass, SANYO, and GK Machine.

The grant award specifies that money is to be used to train and place unemployed and dislocated workers — with a focus on veterans, women, and minorities — in Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties in Oregon, and Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum counties in Washington state in careers such as hybrid/electric auto technicians, weatherization specialists, wind and energy auditors, and solar panel installers.

OMEP will conduct an analysis of the skills and production requirements of the renewable energy industry and identify those manufacturers deemed to be good candidates for employee training to develop and/or manufacture new product lines to support the industry.

The grant is projected to preserve or create 1,700 jobs in the nine counties, with as many as 1,325 participants earning certificates or degrees.

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