Funds target youth jobs

Local youth looking to enter the workforce could get a jump-start in energy industry jobs thanks to a job training program funded with $100,000 secured by Rep. Adam Schiff, officials announced last week.

Stakeholders say the program was inspired by the success of the Verdugo Power Academy — a joint venture of the Glendale Water & Power, Glendale Community College and Verdugo Workforce Investment Board using federal stimulus funding.

While the academy, which graduated its first class of 18 people this year, has focused on out-of-work residents, the new training program will target young people trying to enter the job market for the first time.

"It's a tough employment market for everyone," said Schiff (D-Burbank). "It's all the more difficult for young people just trying to start off a career, and yet there are good opportunities in the green energy area."

The training will focus on smart-grid technology, which is being implemented in Glendale and Burbank. Along with the updated power grid, both cities are installing smart meters that track real-time electric and water usage.

Trainees will be taught a range of skills to help them apply for jobs such as electric meter installers, meter testers and communications technicians.

The training program is also meant to help satisfy a nationwide shortage of utility workers, officials said.

"There's a really looming problem with the age of utility workers," said Don Nakamoto, a labor market specialist for the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board.

With the average age of utility workers hovering around 48 years old, the U.S. Department of Labor has focused on the utility industry as its priority industry target, he said.

For the new program, the collaborators behind the Verdugo Power Academy will partner with the Glendale Youth Alliance, which matches at-risk youth in Glendale and Burbank with job training and employment opportunities.

The alliance will help recruit eligible program participants. Glendale Community College will provide classroom instruction, while Glendale Water & Power will provide internships and on-the-job training.

A program schedule and timeline have not yet been created, Nakamoto said.

Glendale City Councilman Frank Quintero said the program would help educate the community about green energy efforts.

"Not only does it train young people for future, well-paying jobs," he said, "but it's also a tremendous boost to the city and our conservation efforts.

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