News & Media

New City Stormwater Training Program Offers a Pathway to a Better Life

Sean Williams has come a long way. Soon, he’ll be learning how to build, maintain and inspect stormwater infrastructure for Baltimore as a trainee in Civic Works’ inaugural Stormwater Management Technician Training program. “It isn’t going to be easy right now, but what can you expect coming from the bottom up?” he said.

Williams’ “bottom” point included time behind bars. Now he’s on his way to working in a family-sustaining green career. Civic Works’ newest job training program is another positive example of something that works in Baltimore: collaboration between federal, state and city government agencies, nonprofits, foundations and private businesses.

Plugging the Skills Gap

The green infrastructure industry is growing rapidly. Solar jobs are eclipsing opportunities in oil and gas, wind energy is growing and municipalities like Baltimore are investing millions in stormwater runoff cleanup to mitigate the flow of pollutants into waterways.

But a skills gap remains, as many green employers in these growing fields report serious shortages of qualified workers.

With Baltimore City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) stormwater capital spending growing from $1 million in 2016 to $23 million in 2017, an opportunity emerged to kill two birds with one stone. The problems: Baltimore City and its partner stormwater employers need qualified workers, and Baltimore City residents need jobs.

The solution: Civic Works’ Baltimore Center for Green Careers. The center has developed a comprehensive training model that combines certifiable education, employer participation and — probably the most critical ingredient in the recipe — life skills.

The Stormwater Management Technician Training program is the Baltimore Center for Green Careers’ fourth on a growing list that also includes training in energy retrofitting, solar installations and brownfields hazmat remediation. Since 2003, the center has graduated more than 600 trainees.

Read the whole story by Laurel Peltier on Baltimore Fishbowl. Photo credit to Chelsea Clough.