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A new $500,000 grant has been awarded to East Central University to continue its Veterans Workforce Investment Program, this time with an emphasis on green energy jobs which require licenses and certifications.

ECU received one of 17 grants totaling more than $7.5 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to provide approximately 3,000 veterans with job training to help them succeed in civilian careers. ECU hopes to serve 160 eligible veterans in 2009-10.

The VWIP grants will help veterans from targeted groups overcome employment barriers and ease their transition into unsubsidized jobs. Through this program, veterans receive skills assessments, individual job counseling, labor-market information, classroom and/or on-the-job training, skills upgrading and retraining and placement assistance and follow-up services.

"This program has proven very worthwhile for veterans," said C.J. Vires, ECU associate vice president for sponsored programs and research. "This grant has a new focus on green energy jobs, so we designed a program that will prepare veterans for this growing field."

Veterans from across the state and region will be recruited and screened for enrollment in the readiness program for green job employment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

"Since 9/11, there have been more than 24,000 Oklahomans deployed for military service, and more than 5,000 from the region surrounding ECU," said Mary Meeks, director of ECU's VWIP program.

Eligible veterans will be assessed and screened each quarter for appropriate placement and referral. Meeks said an individual employment plan also will be developed for each veteran enrolled in VWIP.

Classroom and green energy job training will be held on the ECU campus. Room and board will be provided for veterans who need it to fully participate, depending on available beds. VWIP participants will receive two weeks of employment readiness activities such as resume development, interviewing skills, career exploration, job search assistance, academic skill improvement, life skills development, resource identification and mentoring.

Efforts will be coordinated with One Stop Career Center's Local Veterans Employment Representatives (LVER), Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP) Specialists and others.

"We will build on the veterans' military experience, training and service to conduct classroom and hands-on training which will lead to green energy job certifications in up to five specialized areas for each participant," Meeks said.

This training will last four weeks and will be provided through ECU's Institute of Environmental Sciences and Research (IESER). IESER faculty will also provide supervision in the on-the-job training phase of the program following the certification training. Veterans will be encouraged to participate in an OJT opportunity for at least two weeks.

Job placement assistance will complete the activities for the quarter.

VWIP staff along with One Stop Career Center LVER and DVOP specialists will help place veterans in appropriate jobs. Follow-up activities will include case management for a time in an effort to provide the necessary support and encouragement needed to enhance employment retention.

For additional information about ECU's VWIP program, contact Mary Meeks at 580-559-5541.


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