Green Opportunities, Mission partner for employment – Citizen-Times


Green Opportunities, Mission partner for employment – Citizen-Times

For the first time, each graduate is leaving the program with a job

ASHEVILLE – The first job Stephen Barnard says he aspired to was that of a “thug.” Barnard, 28, was raised by his grandmother in Montford. His father was in and out of prison and his mother struggled with addiction.

As a teenager, he was drawn to the young men he saw selling drugs on the streets of his neighborhood. He liked their cars, their clothes, their jewelry and their wealth. “I didn’t want to work for nothing,” said Barnard. “I wanted the easy money.”

Last week, after serving two stints in prison, Barnard became the first student of the new Green Opportunities’ GO Build construction training program to graduate with a job.

He is not alone. For the first time, all 14 graduates in the nonprofit’s culinary arts and construction workforce training programs are leaving employed.

This year, a $100,000 grant from Mission Hospital and a new construction curriculum approved by the Home Builders Institute is making participants in the GO Build program more competitive than ever, said Joseph “J” Hackett, executive director of Green Opportunities.

The certification, approved by the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute, will help students advance their careers and education in the future, he said. The new curriculum also increases exposure to working professionals, helping students find inspiration and garner practical skills.

“It’s a stepping stone,” said Barnard, who recently started work as an electrician’s assistant at Starr Electric Company. “It’s a new start and it’s a career that I can see myself retiring in.”

Green Opportunities partnered with Mission Hospital and the contractors at its planned $400 million, 600,000-square-foot building site, Mission Hospital for Advanced Medicine, last year.

There, project director Bob Williford at Brasfield & Gorrie agreed to help the participants train and find work.

Brasfield & Gorrie is one of the nation’s largest privately held construction firms, providing general contracting, design-build, and construction management services. It has 12 offices and about 2,600 employees.

The Mission Hospital for Advanced Medicine project will employ hundreds of people over the next three years, said Williford.

“GO Build offers pre-apprentice training for individuals who may become prospective employees,” he said. “By offering our expertise, we are enhancing classroom training and connecting graduates with job opportunities.”

Williford went so far as to require subcontractors on the project to be involved. They talked with the students about their specific fields and helped them practice for job interviews.

“Brasfield & Gorrie has assembled some of the best subcontractors in the U.S. to work on the Mission Hospital for Advanced Medicine project,” Williford said. “Most have established internal training programs that offer paths for employees to reach journeymen status. However, our industry needs even more skilled construction workers and this initiative will help in this regard.”….Read More.

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