Understanding TEEM's Service Model: Forklift Certification

TEEM is dedicated to providing job skills that will help participants garner success in the work force. After changing our service model in January 2014, TEEM added over 16 new courses to add to the curriculum, including forklift certification. By taking this course, participants significantly increase their marketability.

“We added the forklift course because we also do the general industry course Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA),” instructor Aaron Cosar said. “A component of OSHA is materials handling. Part of that model requires individuals to have a forklift license.”

After completing orientation and regular work readiness training and behavioral courses, participants have the option of coming back to TEEM to complete the forklift certification class. Students not only study coursework on how to safely operate a forklift, they get hands-on experience driving a forklift through TEEM’s own garage-turned-obstacle-course.

“We wanted to give participants an opportunity to be able to physically get on a forklift,” Cosar said. “They are able to get a general feel for the machine. This helps ease their nerves and soothe their discomfort.”


 Aaron Cosar is not only a certified Thinking for a Change, PREP, and OSHA instructor, but an integral part of TEEM’s service model. Aaron was once an inmate himself and was recommended to TEEM by a community partner who noticed his determination, work ethic, and character while incarcerated. After having his sentence commuted, Aaron joined TEEM, bringing valuable experience and insight into the organization’s target population.

“I came to work here about two weeks after I was released from prison.” This background helps Aaron interact and relate to TEEM’s participants. “I spent 25 years in the system so I understand what they’re going through,” he said.

Aaron believes it’s his responsibility to challenge himself to offer a relatable role model to his students. “As an instructor, I need to have credibility in what I can do—I don’t want to just talk about it.”

Since starting the forklift program in June 2014, over 90 students have obtained their forklift certifications and many of them are using this training in the workforce.

“It pushes them forward,” Cosar explained. “When they get to a job, I want their supervisors to have faith that our participants are knowledgeable and skilled on the equipment.”