Gray Secures $1 Million to help Stanislaus County Job Training Program

Thursday, July 5, 2018

As published in: The Modesto Bee

$1 million from state will help Stanislaus County train people for well-paying jobs

BY KEN CARLSON

kcarlson@modbee.com

Updated July 03, 2018 06:00 PM

The VOLT Institute in Modesto has received a jolt from the state budget in the form of $1 million in funding.

It should create opportunity for training younger adults to work in industrial electronics, automation and equipment maintenance for large employers in Stanislaus County. On average, those higher-skilled jobs pay $27.80 an hour.

The state funds will expand a job-training partnership involving Modesto Junior College, Opportunity Stanislaus and the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE). The VOLT Institute, a private-sector-driven program launched in October, recently graduated a 30-member class of maintenance mechanics to work in local industries.

MJC will receive the state funding and purchase equipment for a broader array of training programs at SCOE’s trade school in the former Modesto Bee building. The money will be used to leverage federal dollars for training up to 200 students a year.

The community college has its own vocational training in industrial electronics, automation, manufacturing, welding and agricultural mechanics. While investing in training equipment and new programs at VOLT, the college also will continue with vocational training at its west campus.

What's driving the workforce training initiative is the need among employers in Stanislaus County for skilled workers to maintain equipment and troubleshoot problems in manufacturing systems.

“Regional programs that offer specific, technical training are in high demand,” said Scott Kuykendall, assistant superintendent for SCOE. “By delivering skilled training, VOLT is simultaneously meeting the needs of job seekers and industry.”

Chancellor Henry Yong of the Yosemite Community College District said the workforce training promises a brighter future for families, contributes to the local economy and will expand the tax base for supporting public services.

Partners in the VOLT Institute plan to tailor training programs for skills in demand in the labor market. The center could branch into "mechatronics" or training workers to maintain automated machinery. MJC is looking to offer training in the building trades at the VOLT center, including a program to construct tiny houses for the homeless.

Dave White, chief executive officer of Opportunity Stanislaus, said the state money will be used as matching dollars for a $2 million federal grant for expansion of MJC vocational training and the VOLT Institute.

White ran point to help Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, to get the funding into the state budget signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last week.

White said most of the students in the VOLT Institute's first graduating class have found jobs. It takes nine to 10 months to complete the maintenance mechanic training at VOLT.

Students are enrolling in a three-month Certified Production Technician class that begins this month. The class is a shorter program to enhance skills for working in manufacturing.

More information on the VOLT Institute can be found at https://voltinstitute.com.