(File image)

(File image)

Santa Monica College, in collaboration with the California Works Alliance, has helped 124 residents of east Los Angeles County earn degrees in sustainable resource management from the California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA), officials announced this week.

The group is the latest to pass through the Jobs Through Recycling program and will graduate Wednesday in Pico Rivera, Calif.

Even before graduation, 18 participants have been placed in jobs at NASA Services, Inc. of Montebello, Calif., a recycling company, and many more are expected to get work in the high-growth, high-demand field of recycling and resource management, college officials said.

Although previous training programs have been held at SMC, this latest training was held at a facility in Pico Rivera. Laina Long, SMC’s project manager for California Works Alliance, said her program wanted to reach out to unemployed and underemployed people at the east end of Los Angeles County.

The participants received employee and driver training in zero waste, customer service and recycling.

“This has been one of our most successful group of graduates so far,” said Judi Gregory, certification manager with the CRRA. “The partnership and collaboration with the city of Pico Rivera and NASA Services was very successful and resulted in many new job placements. Additionally, those being hired stated that they felt the advanced training helped them do a better job and made them feel more engaged and part of a team.”

The training provided by CRRA, which hires industry professionals to teach the participants, is an 11-week program and covers topics such as recycling, reuse, waste prevention, zero waste, composting, construction debris management, sustainability, climate change, event recycling, food waste recycling and auditing tools. Each student also completed a group capstone project.

The Jobs Through Recycling program began in January 2011 and is funded by a $4.87 million Community-Based Job Training Grant awarded to SMC by the U.S. Department of Labor. Under the terms of the grant, approximately 500 people are to be trained in green jobs and careers through June 2013.

College officials said the program is important to SMC, not only because of the employment opportunities it creates, but also because it underlines the college’s commitment to sustainability.

Officials have noted that the recycling industry is as large as the automobile industry in America, and that 25 percent of all green jobs in California are in recycling. In addition, research has shown that for every 10,000 tons of solid waste going to landfills, one job is created. That same amount of waste — if diverted from landfills — can create four composting jobs, 10 recycling jobs, and 75 reuse-materials jobs.

For more information on the program or to apply for classes that start March 1, contact Judi Gregory at judi@crra.com or to go www.crra.com/scholarship.

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