Coalfield Development and CEGAS at Marshall announce joint job training program


The community development nonprofit Coalfield Development Corporation today announced a new partnership with the Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences (CEGAS) at Marshall University called “The Quality Environmental Jobs Initiative.”

Funded through an Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grant from the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection (U.S. EPA), the initiative will provide technical training in environmental remediation over the next two years.

Initially geared toward laid-off coal miners, veterans and unemployed young adults, the training program is free of charge and open to the general public. The first courses are scheduled to begin Monday, Oct. 26, at the West Edge Factory in Huntington and will include Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER), asbestos abatement, lead abatement, and safety and health during three weeks of training.

Registrations for the October 2015 fall courses must be received by Tuesday, Oct. 20, and can be made online at http://qejobtrainingwv.eventbrite.com.

The second offering of five courses will begin in January 2016 and will be taught over five consecutive weeks for an intensive immersion into the environmental field.

To be considered a graduate of the training program one must complete the required HAZWOPER training, as well as two additional courses, such as asbestos abatement and lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP).

Graduates of the Quality Environmental Jobs Initiative will gain a working knowledge of job-related environmental issues and the opportunity to earn professional certifications in a variety of environmental fields such as: HAZWOPER, asbestos abatement, lead abatement, mold remediation and meth-lab clean-up.

Additional services will include professional skills development, life-skills counseling and job placement services. Importantly, the program involves close collaboration with more than 12 private-sector partners and multiple employers across the state.

“This is a great opportunity for hard-working West Virginians to gain valuable skill sets and credentials for the modern workforce that can lead to good paying jobs,” said CEGAS Director Dr. Tony Szwilski.

Coalfield Director Brandon Dennison added, “These are jobs that help take liabilities such as environmentally damaged properties or vacant buildings and convert them into community assets. It’s exciting to be a part of this process.”

Hands-on training will take place primarily at a former brownfields site previously known as the Corbin Clothing Factory in Huntington, which closed and became vacant in the 1990s. Coalfield Development Corporation now owns the building, which they redeveloped and rebranded as the West Edge Factory through a partnership with the Wayne County Economic Development Authority, the City of Huntington, and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Land Restoration and its EPA Brownfield Assessment Grant.

The structure now contains a warehouse, workshop, office space and a large training facility, where these courses will take place.

“When coupled with our counseling and job placement services, this program will truly provide an opportunity to change lives for the better,” Dennison said. “I highly encourage anybody looking to improve their skills, to do important work for their community and find gainful employment to get in touch with us.”

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About Coalfield Development:
The Coalfield Development Corporation is a licensed general contractor that is involved in several types of construction in the community as well as deconstruction projects. Coalfield’s Quality Jobs initiative (QJI) is structured on a ‘33-6-3’ model where crew members participate in QJI work for Coalfield doing hands-on construction work for 33 hours a week.

Six hours a week are devoted to classes in which crew members attend a local community college for all general and major course classes. Along with their coursework, local community colleges partner with Coalfield by providing academic credit for certain on-the-job training activities that take place during the 33-hour portion of work. This enables crew members to essentially be full-time students while completing an associate degree in two years’ time. Crew members also commit to fully participating in three hours of life skills training a week, where they are challenged to learn about managing finances, culture, physical health and other factors necessary to live a quality life.

About CEGAS:
The Center for Environmental, Geotechnical, and Applied Sciences (CEGAS) was established at Marshall University in May 1993 and conducts research and development projects that include environmental management, virtual interactive simulation for training programs, visualization laboratory development, geographical information systems, and specialized training and technical assistance.

The center takes a leadership role in technological innovation and collaborates with community stakeholders to develop innovative ideas, enhance scientific capability, encourage economic development and contribute to the economic vitality of the State of West Virginia and beyond. The West Virginia Brownfield Assistance Center at Marshall University (WVBAC), housed within CEGAS, was established in 2005 as a West Virginia state legislative mandate to promote economic development through brownfield revitalization.

The WVBAC conducts various brownfield outreach and technical assistance activities to West Virginia communities interested in brownfield redevelopment opportunities. And, through its Visualization Center, CEGAS provides a Virtual Interactive Simulation Environment (VISE) for virtual training, scientific visualization, urban planning and conceptual visualization, motion capture and custom services.