CHICAGO, May 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The State of Illinois and DuPage County are helping unemployed and underemployed military veterans get jobs in the growing field of building operations and maintenance through a pilot version of the nationally recognized Building Operator Certification® (BOC) program. The new program was created to address the issue of unemployment among returning servicemen and women, which was 9.9 percent in 2012 for post-9/11 veterans compared to 7.9 percent for nonveterans.
The BOC Veterans program, led by the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) in partnership with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) and several other state and local organizations, is designed to help veterans who have experience and skills that are readily transferable to commercial building operations and maintenance bridge the gap to civilian careers.
"The first of its kind in the nation, this training pilot benefits both veterans and their prospective employers," said Jay Wrobel, Executive Director of MEEA. "The veterans are ready to apply the concepts learned in BOC training to help Illinois businesses save money and energy immediately through no or low cost actions."
The program's many benefits include providing job training, achieving cost effective energy savings and supporting the nation's military veterans. The program was created at the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting as a Commitment to Action.
The BOC Veterans program launched in Springfield in late 2012 and in DuPage County in January of this year. Participating DuPage veterans have received 74 hours of training at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, including classroom work, assessment and hands-on projects on topics such as HVAC and electrical systems, efficient lighting, and indoor air quality. BOC tuition alone would normally cost $1,250, but the program is free to qualified veterans thanks to funding from the DCEO's State Energy Office and federal Workforce Investment Act funds through the DuPage County Workforce Development Division (WDD) and other partners.
To ensure veterans get the real world experience they need, the program also matches them with facilities staff from community organizations such as DuPage County, Wheaton College and Presence Mercy Medical Center in Aurora, who volunteered their time to mentor the veterans and help them complete hands-on projects.
For instance, program participant Alex Dawson, who worked as an aircraft electrician during his service for the U.S. Air Force, was matched with mentor Ed Kelly, the HVAC Foreman at Wheaton College. Dawson remarked, "My job on active duty gave me extensive troubleshooting experience. The BOC program helped to close the gap between that and equipment specific to the field. My mentor showed me all the different building operating systems used at the college, and he invited me to attend a seminar on water heating with his staff. The BOC program has been influential in helping me pursue a new career as a stationary engineer."
"We commend the veterans for the training and project work they completed to earn this nationally recognized certificate. These individuals have demonstrated service to our country and now possess knowledge and competency in energy efficient operation and maintenance of buildings, and subsequently they will be more competitive in the job market," said Peter DiCianni, Environmental Committee Chairman of the DuPage County Board. "We look forward to working with MEEA and the other partners to help the veterans pursue jobs in the growing energy efficiency green jobs market."
The BOC-certified veterans are now pursuing employment, working with case managers at the DuPage County WDD located in the workNet DuPage Career Center. Businesses and organizations can support Illinois veterans through mentoring, support services and/or employment. Sign up to partner at www.boccentral.org.
As the project sponsor, DCEO champions the BOC Veterans program benefits, which addresses the issue of unemployed and underemployed Illinois veterans while saving energy and money for Illinois businesses and organizations.
"This training program provides the energy efficiency skills that are in high demand in the workplace today," said DCEO Acting Director Adam Pollet. "Veterans know how to accomplish a mission. All we need to do is give them the tools."
"We at IDVA know that one of the greatest challenges veterans face is acquiring relevant certification and training for civilian careers," said Erica Borggren, Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs. "The BOC program is a great example of public-private partnership to help veterans train for and transition into a meaningful civilian career."
In addition to the veterans, nine employed building operators completed the DuPage BOC training to learn how to maximize the energy efficiency of their building systems. Participants included several engineers of DuPage commercial buildings, electrical and HVAC staff of Wheaton College, and the building mechanic supervisor of the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. The average energy savings per BOC graduate in Illinois have been estimated to be 181,000 kWh and 557 therms per year, equivalent to nearly $17,000 at average Midwest commercial energy prices.
About the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, www.mwalliance.org, is a collaborative network advancing energy efficiency in the Midwest to support sustainable economic development and environmental preservation. MEEA bridges the gap between policy adoption and program implementation.
About Building Operator Certification (BOC®)
BOC is a nationally recognized, competency-based training and certification program that offers facilities personnel the improved job skills and knowledge to transform workplaces to be more comfortable, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. The Northwest Energy Efficiency Council (NEEC), a non-profit trade association of the energy efficiency industry, developed BOC with support from the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance and holds the copyright for the BOC trademark and products. For more information, visit www.neec.net.
Through a license from the Northwest Energy Efficiency Council (NEEC), MEEA currently administers BOC in nine Midwest states through partnerships with over 50 utilities, state governments, and local organizations and has certified over 3,100 BOC graduates since 2003. For more information, visit www.boccentral.org.
About CGI America
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. Established in June 2011 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) addresses economic recovery in the United States. CGI America brings together leaders in business, government, and civil society to generate and implement commitments to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, foster innovation, and support workforce development in the United States. Since its first meeting, CGI America participants have made more than 211 commitments valued at $13.6 billion when fully funded and implemented. To learn more, visit cgiamerica.org.
CGI also convenes an Annual Meeting, which brings together global leaders to take action and create positive social change, CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world, and, this year, CGI Latin America, which will bring together Latin American leaders to identify, harness, and strengthen ways to improve the livelihoods of people in Latin America and around the world. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.
SOURCE Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance