Training and Education

Training and education

Whether the goal is a first job, a fresh start, a better job, or the specialized
knowledge to do a job safely, OAI’s education and training programs are
designed to meet real-world needs.

Every training leads to credentials

Certificates and licenses prove trainees have what employers need. Every credential earned adds value to a worker’s resume.

Every course is built on industry best practice

Talented, experienced trainers use multiple methods and media to make content accessible. Courses include hands-on practice, integrated supports, and ongoing coaching; some include placement.

Every program
tracks success

We measure our success by the success of our graduates. We want to do a great job today, and a better one tomorrow.

Explore our trainings for job seekers or workers.

For job seekers

Entering or re-entering the workforce isn’t easy, and not everyone who wants a job is ready or able to put in the effort required. Our innovative “Try-Outs” process gives candidates a chance to test their commitment and ensures that the people we accept into training are ready for the challenge.

Once accepted, OAI trainees can count on high-quality instruction and a curriculum designed to develop marketable, real-world skills. They can also count on an extraordinary level of support. From extra tutoring and self-paced course review to job interview coaching to help with emergency housing, we help trainees overcome the barriers that stand between them and success.

Environmental Careers Worker Training

One of OAI’s core programs, Environmental Careers Worker Training (ECWT) offers hands-on, entry-level preparation for careers in environmental remediation, construction, hazardous waste handling, restoration, and related industries.


Who participates

Unemployed or underemployed individuals

Course work and credentials
The ECWT program covers basic carpentry, shop, and environmental, health, and safety training, plus life skills, basic education (industry-related language and math, computer literacy, etc.), and professional development. Training is conducted in class and on site to provide students with theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience. Students have the opportunity to earn industry-recognized health and safety-related certifications or licenses such as

  • Hazardous Waste handling
  • OSHA 10-hr. Worker Safety
  • Forklift Operations
  • Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting
  • Confined Space Entry
  • Lock-out/Tag-out
  • Blueprint Reading
  • First Aid CPR
  • Blood Borne Pathogens
  • CDL A and B

Post-training services
Job placement assistance, post-training follow-up tracking, career coaching, support services, and mentoring.

Where
Chicago, Dallas, and Kansas City

How to enroll
For more information or to enroll, contact Kentina Kellum at (312) 528-3522 or kkellum@oaiinc.org

Funding partners
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Lloyd A. Fry Foundation
McCormick Foundation

Chicago Greencorps

For more than 15 years, OAI has partnered with the City of Chicago’s Greencorps, a green industry job training program for individuals with barrier to employment. We assist with outreach and recruitment efforts and provide health and safety and green infrastructure training and placement assistance.


Who participates

City of Chicago residents who are unemployed or underemployed

Course work and credentials
During this nine-month program, trainees receive practical experience, academic enhancement, professional development, and training in a variety of environmentally-related jobs with skills that easily transfer to other industries. Classroom and hands-on training are complemented by internship opportunities in areas such as horticulture, urban agriculture, tree care, landscaping, and ecological restoration. In the field, trainees work alongside personnel from the Chicago Park District, Forest Preserve District of Cook County, and other public/private community partners.

Trainees can earn industry-recognized environmental-related certifications or licenses such as

  • 40-hr. HAZWOPER
  • OSHA 10-hr. Worker Safety
  • First Aid/CPR
  • Chicago Wilderness Prescription Burn
  • Illinois Pesticide Certification
  • Defensive Driving

Post-training services
Job placement assistance, post-training follow-up tracking, career coaching, support services, and mentoring.

Where
Chicago

How to enroll
For more information or to enroll, contact Andy Johnson at (312) 746-9771 or ajohnson@wrdenvironmental.org

Funding partners
US Environmental Protection Agency
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
City of Chicago Department of Transportation
Chicago Park District
Forest Preserve District of Cook County

Strengthening Working Families Initiative in Chicago Southland

Parents face an extra barrier to employment and training: finding safe, affordable child care. The Strengthening Working Families Initiative provides parents with hands-on technical education and training in healthcare, manufacturing, or information technology and connects them to the child care resources they need to succeed. Beyond training, initiative partners are working together to make finding and accessing child care easier for all job seekers.


Who participates

Working parents, particularly those with low incomes and low skills

Course work and credentials
Course work leading to the following credentials is offered in partnership with south suburban community colleges. With the help of OAI staff, trainees choose a training track based on their interests and skills.


Manufacturing track

  • Welding Certification
  • Forklift Certification
  • CNC Machining


Healthcare track

  • Certified Nursing Assistant
  • Licensed Practical Nurse
  • Registered Nurse
  • Emergency Medical Technician


Information technology track

  • IT Programming Certification
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Computer Support Specialist
  • Network & Systems Administrator


Post-training services
Job placement assistance, post-training follow-up tracking, career coaching, support services, and mentoring.

Where
Chicago Southland, specifically 43 communities experiencing high concentrations of poverty, unemployment, and crime and low high school graduation rates

How to enroll
For more information or to enroll, contact Stephanie Craine at (708) 283-5020 or email scraine@oaiinc.org.

Initiative partners
National Able Network
Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation
Prairie State College
South Suburban College
Illinois Action for Children
Chicago Jobs Council

Funding partner
U.S. Department of Labor

Calumet Green Manufacturing Partnership

This collaborative partnership identifies and addresses the labor-market needs of manufacturing companies within the Calumet region, where a shortage of skilled workers and an aging workforce threaten productivity.

Who participates
Unemployed or underemployed individuals

Course work and credentials
Technical training and certification options include

  • Computer Numerical Control/National Institute Metalworking Skills Certification
  • Nondestructive Testing
  • Welding
  • Certified Production Technician/ Manufacturing Skills Stands Council Certification

Post-training services
Job placement assistance, post-training follow-up tracking, career coaching, support services, and mentoring.

Where
Training locations include Prairie State, Moraine Valley, and South Suburban Colleges and Rich East High School in the Calumet region of metropolitan Chicago

How to enroll
For more information or to enroll, contact Kreshina Ingram at (708) 283-5020 or kingram@oaiinc.org

Funding partner

Cook County Community Development Block Grant

Manufacturing Careers Internship Program

Part of the Calumet Green Manufacturing Program, this internship program puts young adults on the fast track to steady employment with a job readiness boot camp followed by an 8-week paid internship at a local manufacturing company.

Who participates
Young adults, ages 18–24

Course work and credentials
In the five-week boot camp, trainees earn a Forklift Driving certification and 10-hour OSHA General Industry certification and learn basic job readiness skills. During the 8-week internship, participants receive ongoing support in the form of regular site visits, counseling, and mentoring.

Post-training services
Job placement assistance, post-training follow-up tracking, career coaching, support services, and mentoring.

Where
The boot camp is held at Robbins Community Center, Robbins, Illinois, and other partnership locations. Internship sites include companies located within the Calumet region of metropolitan Chicago.

How to enroll
For more information or to enroll, contact Kreshina Ingram at (708) 283-5020 or kingram@oaiinc.org

Funding partners
Business and Career Services
Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership

EPIC Manufacturing & Logistics Training

This program opens the door to living-wage employment and sustainable career paths in manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, and logistics.


Who participates

Only open to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients through the Department of Human Services (DHS) referral process.

Course work and credentials
Training and certification options include

  • Computer Numerical Control/National Institute Metalworking Skills Certification
  • Certified Production Technician/ Manufacturing Skills Stands Council Certification
  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Class A
  • 20-hour Forklift certification and 10-hour OSHA general industry certification

Post-training services
Job placement assistance, post-training follow-up tracking, career coaching, support services, and mentoring.

Where
Trainings are held at South Suburban College or Prairie State College.

How to enroll
You must enroll through the Department of Human Services (DHS). The program was designed for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD). If you have a family, you can volunteer for the program, but to qualify, your household may not be receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits. Interested individuals should contact their DHS office for enrollment information.

Funding partners
Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

For workers

Since 1995, OAI’s Hazardous Waste Worker Training program has provided industry-accredited training in safe work practices and hazard prevention to workers whose duties put them at risk from environmental, chemical, or physical danger.

Three features, in particular, distinguish our program.

Our “company is the curriculum” approach guarantees that OAI courses meet each company’s specific needs. Training is customized to address specific workplace hazards and employer-identified skills gaps. Training materials incorporate company-specific documents; course content reflects company-specific culture and practice.

Our integrated or “nested” curriculum model goes beyond rote learning to include critical thinking, team skills, opportunities to apply skills and concepts in order to reinforce mastery and retention, and the integration of higher-level training elements such as quality processes, customer service, or business basics.

Our train-the-trainer model helps agencies, companies, and organizations develop sustainable, in-house safety training capacity. Peer-group trainers—familiar with the people they are training and with the specific potential hazards a given workplace presents—are extremely effective in helping promote safe work practices while reducing injuries.

In addition to trainings offered in partnership with other organizations, a few of the environmental health and safety courses offered at our Chicago headquarters are open to anyone. Open enrollment courses are conducted by experienced safety professionals and competitively priced.

If you’re looking to build job skills in your community or have a business that needs a more skilled workforce, contact Rich Addari at (312) 528-3517 or raddari@oaiinc.org.

Hazardous Waste Worker Training

Who participates

  • Emergency first responders, including rural and volunteer firefighters, police, hospital first receivers, and EMTs.
  • Non-union workers, including manufacturing, construction, janitorial, and environmental clean-up workers and nail salon technicians.
  • Transitional and temporary workers, including immigrant day laborers, homeless or formerly incarcerated individuals entering the workforce, and high-school dropouts working on construction projects.

Course work and credentials
Trainings are compliant with OSHA and EPA standards and can be customized to address specific workplace hazards. Popular courses include

  • General Safety Awareness – 4 hr. and 8 hr.
  • Permit-required Confined Space and Lockout/Tagout – 4 hr. and 8 hr.
  • Hazard Communication (2012) – 4 hr. and 8 hr.
  • OSHA for Construction and General Industry – 10 hr. and 30 hr.
  • HAZMAT Technician, Operations and Awareness Levels & Refresher – 8 hr., 24 hr. and 40 hr.
  • General Site Worker HAZWOPER & Refresher –8 hr. and 40 hr.
  • Clandestine Laboratories with Illicit Drugs, Awareness & Technician – 8 hr. and 40 hr.
  • EPA Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting – 8 hr.

Download the brochure.

Post-training services
In addition to initial training, we offer required refresher trainings as required by OSHA regulations

Where
Trainings are offered through partnerships in over 20 states. Key partnerships are in Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Louisiana, the Gulf South, and Virginia.

  • Emergency First Responders
    • State of Kentucky Fire and Police
    • State of Minnesota Fire
    • Sponsorship of refresher training for responders at the Midwest HAZMAT (IL) and Cold Zone (MN) conferences.
  • Non-union workers
    • Mendez Environmental (LA),
    • Boat People SOS (Gulf South and VA)
    • Building Material Reuse Association (IL)
  • Transitional and Temporary Workers
    • YouthBuild USA (Nationwide)
    • Raise the Floor Worker Centers (IL)
    • Cara Program’s Cleanslate (IL)
    • ReBuilding Exchange (IL)
    • Black United Fund of Illinois (IL)

To learn more
For more information, contact Alexander Prentzas (312) 528-3529 or aprentzas@oaiinc.org.

Funding partner
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences