Recently, representatives from Construction Citizen (including myself) visited the offices and training facilities of SER-Jobs for Progress, guided by executive director Nory Angel. One of the programs offered by SER is their Green Jobs Training Project, which they provide in partnership with several other organizations including Workforce Solutions, Houston Community College, Home Builders Institute, Houston Works USA, and Fifth Ward Enrichment Program for Green Training Programs. They provide training at no cost to eligible individuals which includes career coaching and is followed by pre-employment services and referrals to help the graduates find work after completing one or more of the offered courses. The program is provided to extremely low-income adults who live in the Houston community.
Although some have criminal backgrounds, they are required to pass a drug screen in order to be accepted into the program. Their Green Job Training Program includes classes in Green Core Construction, Weatherization, Home Energy Rating, Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC), and Solar Panel Installation.
On the day we visited the Weatherization class, some students were installing a storm door while others were cutting the extra foam away and reinstalling the trim after they had sealed the mock “home” with spray foam earlier.
Juan Escoto, one of the instructors at SER, was once a student of the program. After completing the Core Construction and Concrete Countertops courses, he was able to start his own business installing countertops, but later returned to SER as an instructor. In the following video, Juan answers the question “What is your recommendation for students once they have completed this program?”
As he neared the completion of the Green Job Training Program, student Tony Calvin talked to me about what he had learned. In the video he remarks “I hate that it was so short a period of time. I wish it could have been longer – to learn more.”
Student Venus Patrick was introduced to the skilled trades when she received training from Job Corps over 30 years ago. After her SER graduation, she looks forward to getting back to “hands on” work, especially work that will allow her to work outdoors.
The video concludes with SER director Nory Angel describing the beneficial partnership between SER and local businesses who hire SER graduates. While at SER, the students are not only trained in job skills, but they are also taught how to be good employees for their future employers. Additionally, SER may subsidize the employer partner who hires a SER graduate for half of the new hire’s wages during the time that new hire is being trained by the employer. Finally, some employees help employers qualify for certain tax credits.
You can watch each of these interviews in the following video.