Groundbreaking Pilot Program Helps Illinois Veterans Find Jobs, Save Energy in DuPage County

Groundbreaking Pilot Program Helps Illinois Veterans Find Jobs, Save Energy 

Program’s dual benefits: train and employ veterans and save energy for Illinois businesses
DuPage County, IL, November 9, 2012 – The State of Illinois and DuPage County are helping unemployed and underemployed veterans earn the nationally-recognized Building Operator Certification (BOC®) and achieve gainful employment as facility managers. The BOC Veterans Pilot directly addresses the issue of higher unemployment among Illinois returning veterans, which was over 11% in 2011.    
The BOC Veterans Pilot 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, targets veterans who have experience and skills that are readily transferable to commercial building operations and maintenance.  
“MEEA’s pilot program, which is the first of its kind in the nation, benefits both veterans and their prospective employers. Program participants receive training and certification that help them compete in the job market and save Illinois businesses energy and money,” said Jay Wrobel, Executive Director of MEEA. 
MEEA and its partners in DuPage County are currently recruiting unemployed and underemployed Illinois veterans to participate in the BOC training program that begins in January 2013 at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, IL.  The Veterans Assistance Commission of DuPage is promoting the program to veterans at events throughout the County.   
“DuPage County appreciates the work and sacrifices made by our veterans in their service to our country.  We recognize the difficulties these service men and woman have encountered in returning to the civilian workforce and the BOC training is just one way we can help them on their road to employment. This program provides valuable training in the highly competitive and growing energy efficiency green jobs market,” said Jeff Redick, DuPage County Environmental Committee Chairman. “We’re proud to work with MEEA to provide this valuable service for our veterans and the green energy marketplace.”
The rigorous program will include eight days of technical training on energy-efficient building operations and maintenance, a mentoring program, and employment workshops led by the DuPage County Workforce Development Division (WDD) at the workNet DuPage Career Center focusing on topics such as resume building, interviewing skills, and job searching.  The entire program is funded by DuPage County WDD and provided free to qualified veterans. BOC tuition alone would normally cost $1,250.00. 
The BOC program is sponsored by DCEO’s State Energy Office which is administered by DCEO’s Office of Employment and Training in conjunction with the Land of Lincoln Workforce Alliance. A full list of project partners can be viewed at http://www.boccentral.org. The pilot is also featured as a 2012 Clinton Global Initiative America Commitment to Action. To learn more, visit cgiamerica.org.  
As the project sponsor, DCEO champions the pilots’ benefits – addressing the issue of unemployed Illinois veterans while saving energy and money for Illinois businesses and organizations.  
“We must strengthen the returning veteran’s access to training that will lead to a job in Illinois.  To do that with an energy efficiency savings skill set supports another public mission that our veterans can help us accomplish,” said DCEO Director David Vaught.
Upon graduation, the BOC-certified veterans will be ready to apply the concepts learned in training to undertake measures such as energy efficient equipment upgrades and indoor air quality improvements. The average energy savings per BOC graduate in Illinois have been estimated by Navigant Consulting to be 181,000 kWh and 557 therms per year.
Through the mentoring program, facilities personnel at local organizations volunteer to help the veterans complete hands-on projects such as a lighting survey and facility energy use profile. Participating mentors include Henson Robinson Company, Horace Mann Service Corporation, Lincoln Land Community College, and the Illinois Department of Central Management Services. 
“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.” 
“What a great opportunity this program has afforded me. I have thoroughly enjoyed the BOC program and have gained a lot of useful knowledge to help me develop a rewarding career,” said program participant Michael Wright.
MEEA and its Springfield partners are currently working to help participating veterans secure employment in the facilities management profession.  The BOC program recently held a breakfast for Springfield-area employers to educate them about the benefits of hiring BOC-certified veterans and enlist their help.   
For more information about training or hiring a certified BOC vet, visit www.BOCcentral.org or contact Eric Roach at 312-784-7277 or eroach@mwalliance.org
About the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance – The Source on Energy Efficiency
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 eight Midwest states through partnerships with over 25 utilities, state governments, and local organizations, and has certified over 2,900 BOC graduates since 2003. For more information, visit www.boccentral.org